When can you get the vaccine? What the state says

As of January, North Carolina is now using an updated system based on federal guidance to determine when people can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the new guidelines last week, based on information from the federal government.

“The vaccines offer hope but this hope will take time to be fulfilled. We continue to distribute the vaccines across the state as quickly as we get them,” Cooper said in the update December 30.

Supplies of the vaccine are still limited, and there is not enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone at the same time. However, production and distribution will continue over the next months.

The vaccine will be available for free to individuals. So far the United States Food and Drug Administration has authorized vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for emergency use in people 16 years old and older. The United States hasn’t authorized the vaccines for use in people under the age of 16, as vaccine trials for children are still pending.

The medical providers who are distributing the vaccine are expected to ensure that the vaccine is administered equitably within each group, according to the state.

Anyone seeking additional information can go online to https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the following priority list for when people can receive the vaccine. The state entered phase 1A in late December and is moving to Phase 1B in early January.

Phase 1A: Healthcare workers on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, and long-term care staff and residents. Hospital systems, including Cape Fear Valley and FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and local health departments including the Hoke Health Department are vaccinating healthcare workers. This includes healthcare workers who are caring for and working directly with patients who test positive for COVID-19, and those who are giving the vaccine shots. The federal government is vaccinating long-term care residents and staff, partnering with Walgreens and CVS to administer the vaccine in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Phase 1B: Adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers. Frontline essential workers, under the CDC guidelines, include first responders such as firefighters and police, education and child care employees such as teachers and support staff, manufacturing employees, corrections officers, public transit staff, grocery store, food and agriculture employees, and post office workers.

The Phase 1B of vaccinations is opening in groups.

Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older, regardless of whether or not they have a chronic health/medical condition, and regardless of their living situation.

Group 2: Healthcare and frontline essential workers who are 50 years of age or older.

Group 3: Frontline workers and healthcare workers of any age, regardless of whether they work directly with COVID-19 patients.

Phase 2: Adults who are at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness. Vaccinations in Phase 2 will also open in groups.

Group 1: Anyone between the ages of 65-74 years old, regardless of medical condition or living situation.

Group 2: Anyone between the ages of 16-64 years old, who has a medical condition that could increase their risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings, who hasn’t already received the vaccine.

Group 4: Any essential workers as defined by the CDC who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

Phase 3: College, university and high school students 16 years old or older. The vaccines haven’t been approved for use in anyone under the age of 16.

Phase 4: In this phase, anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one.

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