COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens for more people in North Carolina

Part of Group 4 eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some North Carolina residents in Group 4 became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, March 17.

Eligibility opened for those at high risk of severe illness and people living in certain congregate settings. The rest of Group 4 will be eligible to receive a vaccine starting April 7.

Gov. Roy Cooper moved eligibility a week ahead for those in Group 4 in hopes of getting more people vaccinated sooner.

“This move to Group 4 is good news,” Cooper said. “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.”

NCDHHS says they are in constant contact with providers across the state regarding vaccine capacity and supply, and say 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.

Group 4 members eligible starting March 17:

  • People with medical conditions that put them at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
  • People living in some congregate settings that increase risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The March 17 members of Group 4 includes anyone with conditions that have been identified by the CDC as increasing risk for severe COVID-19 illness:

    • Asthma (moderate to severe)
    • Cancer
    • Cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Diabetes type 1 or 2
    • A heart condition such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from: immune deficiencies, HIV, taking chronic steroids or other immune weakening medicines, history of solid organ blood or bone marrow transplant
    • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome
    • Liver disease, including hepatitis
    • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia and schizophrenia
    • Pulmonary fibrosis
    • Overweight or obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease (not including sickle cell trait) or thalassemia
    • Smoking (current or former, defined as having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime)

The March 17 members of Group 4 also include people living in a close group or congregate setting who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function, including:

    • People experiencing homelessness or living in a homeless shelter
    • Correctional facility, such as jail or prison

Additional members of Group 4 (essential workers who are not yet vaccinated) will be eligible to get the vaccine starting April 7. This group is different from frontline essential workers.

Group 4 members eligible starting April 7:

  • Those working in the essential sectors identified in Group 3 who did not meet the criteria for frontline. Essential sectors identified in Group 3 include critical manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, health care and public health, public safety and transportation. See Deeper Dive Group 3.
  • Those working in additional essential sectors as defined below.
  • Chemical (including workers in petrochemical plants, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical facilities, consumer products)
  • Commercial facilities (including retail workers, hotel workers)
  • Communications and information technology (service repair dispatchers, data center operators)
  • Defense industrial base (including workers supporting essential services to meet national security commitments)
  • Energy (including electric, petroleum, natural and propane gas workers)
  • Financial services (including workers who maintain systems for processing financial transactions, workers needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services)
  • Hazardous materials (including nuclear facilities workers, workers managing medical waste)
  • Hygiene products and services (including laundromats, sanitation workers)
  • Public works and infrastructure support services (including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, workers supporting parks)
  • Residential facilities, housing and real estate
  • Water and wastewater (including staff at water authorities, wastewater treatment facilities, water sampling and monitoring)
  • OTHER PEOPLE LIVING IN GROUP LIVING SETTINGS - This population includes students living in dormitories or other group living settings (e.g., fraternity or sorority houses), who are not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function.

The full Group 4 includes anyone 16-64 years old with one or more high-risk medical conditions for severe disease from COVID-19, people living in close group settings and essential workers who are not yet vaccinated.

As with previous statewide group eligibility changes, some providers in some parts of the state may not be ready to move into Group 4 by March 17, and officials say they want them to make sure they are still meeting the demand in Groups 1-3.

NC Moving up some Group 4 vaccinations

Efficiency in North Carolina

North Carolina is moving in Group 4 weeks ahead of schedule. State leadership says this is partially because of the expected supply of the vaccine increasing over the next several weeks.

Cooper also said the state surveyed vaccine providers and many answered they were ready to start vaccinating the next group.

“We’ve heard from providers who really want to go ahead and start opening this up,” said Cooper.

North Carolina’s given out 3.4 million shots in the state according to North Carolina’s data dashboard.

“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,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “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.”

Other groups already being vaccinated

Frontline essential workers in North Carolina became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 3.

Frontline workers were originally scheduled to be eligible on March 10, following teachers, school staff and daycare employees.

Educators, school staff, childcare providers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade became eligible to receive the vaccine on Feb. 24.

Cooper said that frontline healthcare workers, those 65 and older and staff and residents at long-term living facilities will still continue to receive the vaccine.

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