By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • North Carolina is moving ahead to allow more people access to the COVID-19 vaccine, beginning next week.
Adults with a medical condition that puts them at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, and people in certain congregate settings will be eligible to get vaccinated starting March 17. The rest of Group 4 – including essential workers not already vaccinated – will be eligible April 7, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday.
Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen made the announcement after speaking with vaccine providers across the state, to gauge whether they’re ready to move on to vaccinating Group 4. At least one provider in Hoke County, FirstHealth of the Carolinas Hoke hospital, has already started offering appointments to some people in Group 4.
“The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is in constant contact with providers across the state and surveys both their vaccine capacity and supply. The state was able to update its timeline today based on provider feedback and expected supply,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “As with previous eligibility changes, some vaccine providers may not be ready to open to Group 4 on March 17 if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1 through 3.
“This move to Group 4 is good news,” Cooper said in a statement. “I know there are many efforts across the state getting vaccines to people as quickly and fairly as possible and I want our providers to know that their work is making all the difference.”
The state is moving faster than expected, with the announcement of Group 4 eligibility about a week earlier than anticipated.
“We are very fortunate to now have three tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that keep people out of the hospital and prevent death from this virus,” Cohen said in a statement. “With improving supplies, North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner and meet our goals to provide equitable access to vaccinations in every community in the state.”
More than a million people in North Carolina have been fully vaccinated so far, and while supply is still limited, an increased federal allocation of doses is helping providers get shots to more people, officials said.
See our post here on where to get vaccinated: http://www.hokenews.com/index.php/2021/01/15/where-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine/