The governor made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday noting that because the group of essential workers is so large the state will need to gradually open up the number of people in Group 3 over a course of several weeks.
Those who work in child care and schools, such as teachers, bus and van drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, and food service workers, will be eligible first.
Starting March 10th the state will open access to other essential workers. Workers in the broader class include food processing workers, postal workers, firefighters, and court officials just to name a few.
The state has not put in place an ID requirement for individuals to prove they are indeed part of this essential group.
“We know that educators can continue to work safely even before the vaccine being administered as long as schools follow state health guidance,” stressed Cooper. “Schools can get students back in the classroom safely right now, and that’s what I want them to do.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says over the next two weeks the state will focus on vaccinating those 65 and older, while developing additional guidance to help to support child care and school staff in accessing the vaccines.
“I want to reiterate just because folks become eligible on February 24th that doesn’t mean that is the day you are going to get an appointment,” cautioned Cohen.
“Our vaccinating providers may already have longer wait lists of those 65 and up and so we know this will be a gradual process.”
North Carolina expects to receive 155,000 doses of the vaccine next week, roughly a five percent increase over this week.
To date, health care providers have administered almost 1.5 million doses of the vaccine with more than 331,000 North Carolinians fully vaccinated with both doses.
Here’s a closer look at who becomes eligible on February 24th: