North Carolinians with high-risk medical conditions eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting March 17

More than 3 million doses administered as state expands vaccine eligibility

North Carolinains with medical conditions like asthma, cancer, diabetes or weakened immune systembecome eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 17th.

That is one week ahead of schedule from what the state had initially planned.

“This move to Group 4 is good news and it’s made possible by the tireless work of our state health officials, vaccine providers, federal partners and so many others,” said Governor Roy Cooper.

Eighteen percent of North Carolinians have now had their first dose of the vaccine, about 11% are fully vaccinated.

Those in this next group seeking the vaccine will not be required to present a doctor’s note.

“We going to rely on people’s good judgment and their knowledge of their own medical condition,”said the governor.

Click here to learn more about who is considered a high-risk adult

Smokers (current or former) also fall into this high-risk category eligible for the vaccine on the 17th.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said like those with more serious medical conditions, no proof will be required.

“Even being a smokers for a short period of time in your life can do underlying damage to your lungs,” explained Cohen. “Even if you are not a current smoker, but are a former smoker that could have underlying lung damage for you and put you at increased risk.”

Dr. Cohen said health officials are continuing to stress the need for essential frontline workers in Group 3 to step forward and get their shot. She credited the mass-vaccination site in Greensboro for making that possible for many workers who have difficult schedules and limited time off.

“The fact that [site] has been in a mall has been a very useful tool for us. Whether they are working in restaurants or transportation or are first responders, there has been an ability for them to show up at that site,” Cohen said.

The FEMA clinic that opened Wednesday in Greensboro is delivering 3,000 shots a day, seven days a week for the next eight weeks.

Additional essential workers who did not meet the criteria for frontline workers in Group 3 will become eligible for vaccination April 7th.

This group includes plumbers, electricians, hotel workers and those working in real estate and financial services just to name a few. Learn more about who is included in this group.

Cohen also used Thursday’s press conference to stress that individuals should take the first appointment available, not shop around for a certain vaccine.

She took the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine last week; Gov. Cooper took the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

North Carolina is receiving more than 225,000 doses of the three approved vaccines weekly, but finding appointment can still take some time and effort.

It’s one of the reasons health officials are urging the public to continue taking preventative measures to reduce transmission of the virus.

“Until there is enough vaccine, wearing our masks is as important as ever,” said the governor.

For more on the state’s efforts to fairly and equitably vaccinate all North Carolinian, tune in to Sec. Cohen’s fireside chat Thursday evening at 5:30pm (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) with Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and North Carolina NAACP State Conference President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.


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