‘I do think the most at-risk people should be moved up’: Conover man with underlying condition voices concern about NC vaccine rollout

Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 9:32 PM EST
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CONOVER, N.C. (WBTV) - Conover resident Dave Cunningham is eagerly awaiting the day he will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Cunningham, 52, said he lives with Crohn’s disease. He spoke to WBTV in a Zoom interview Thursday evening. The Conover resident said he has undergone several serious surgeries because of the disease and currently takes medication that weakens his immune system. He worries the coronavirus would make him seriously sick if he were to contract it.

“With the suppressed immune system, it could ravage me and it could be death,” Cunningham told WBTV.

The Conover resident said he’s been very careful to avoid exposure to the virus, but it’s been almost a year of playing it safe and he is ready to get the vaccine.

“It’s just hard to wait and keep waiting and not know when that date will come,” said Cunningham.

The 52-year-old is currently slated to be vaccinated in Group 4 of the state’s vaccination plan. That group is comprised of adults at high risk of exposure and increased risk of severe illness. It’s unclear when people in Group 4 will be able to sign up for vaccination appointments.

North Carolina just started vaccinating individuals in Group 3. The group includes frontline essential workers. The state prioritized teachers within that group, allowing educators and school staffers of all ages to start getting vaccinated Wednesday.

Cunningham said he is happy more and more people are getting the vaccine, but admits he is disappointed that people with pre-existing conditions are not being prioritized in a similar way.

“It’s a little disappointing that otherwise healthy people are in line for the vaccine when people with much higher risk aren’t,” said Cunningham. “I’m not trying to diminish anybody else’s requirements or need for the vaccine, but I do think the most at-risk people should be moved up.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has previously spoken about the prioritization process, explaining that it has been difficult for state health officials to allocate thousands of shots for millions of people.

“I think it’s been important that we’ve gone into our long-term care facilities and their staff, that we’ve gotten frontline healthcare workers, and people 65 and up because over 80 percent of the people who have died have been 65 or older,” explained Cooper during a February, 10 briefing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also released guidance regarding the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination rollout efforts. The public health institute also placed frontline essential workers before people with underlying health conditions in its rollout guidance.

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