‘It’s not fair’: NC woman pushing for vaccine rollout to prioritize high-risk populations

People with medical conditions want the vaccine sooner

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina is ranked among the slowest in the country to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recent changes to the distribution plan are causing some confusion and leaving some people with high-risk conditions feeling worried they are being left behind.

Seniors ages 65 and older are being prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thirty-six-year-old Jennifer Williams tells WBTV she believes the same priority should be given to people with high-risk conditions because she says they could be just as likely killed by the virus.

“I have a 50 percent mortality rate if I catch COVID,” Williams said.

Williams has a heart condition, asthma and several other rare medical conditions.

“We can’t go anywhere,” Williams said. “We haven’t been anywhere since March of last year.”

She is also a mother of four, meaning life during a pandemic is not easy.

“Ya know they miss their friends and their school has been virtual, which is really great because they’re following the science, but it has been really hard on my kids,” Williams said.

With the rollout expanding to anyone 65 and older last week, she feels younger people with chronic illnesses are left behind.

“They should have just said high risk and 65 and up,” Williams said. “It wouldn’t have been that hard to include us.”

Health officials say it all goes back to a higher demand for the vaccine than a supply.

“Who gets the vaccine and who doesn’t get vaccine and phases and groups, the bottom line and the foundation for all of this, is there’s not enough vaccine to go around,” Dr. David Priest of Novant Health said. “I certainly understand that frustration.”

As a disability advocate, Williams wants to be a voice for the millions of others waiting for their shot.

“There’s a common misconception that people who are younger are just healthier and that’s just not true,” Williams said. “There are plenty of people like me that were born with chronic illness. We’re here and we’re fighting to stay live and we want the vaccine too.”

Williams says plenty of people in her shoes are not lucky enough to work remotely and are having to decide between their health and livelihood.

She hopes as the state gets a larger supply, officials might re-think this current timeline.

For details on when you qualify for a shot, click here.

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