RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina will begin vaccinating frontline essential workers against COVID-19 on Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
North Carolina divided Group 3 into two phases, beginning with childcare workers and educators on Feb. 24.
Cooper had previously said that all other frontline essential workers would become eligible on March 10.
The governor gave the green light to providers to give all frontline essential workers the vaccine beginning on March 3.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety says group 4 vaccinations will begin on March 24.
“North Carolina will move to Group 4 on March 24, beginning with people with high-risk medical conditions, people experiencing homelessness, and incarcerated people who have not been vaccinated,” the NCDHHS said. “North Carolina plans to move to other essential workers and other people in close group living settings after that. Some vaccine providers may not be ready to open to Group 4 on this date if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1 through 3.”
Vaccinations will be available for those with the following:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Dementia or other neurologic condition
- Diabetes type 1 or 2
- Down Syndrome
- 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
- Liver disease, including hepatitis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Overweight or obesity
- 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)
“We must continue working to keep ourselves and each other safe,” Cooper said.
The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19.
Forsyth County is getting ready for its first shipment of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, according to Forsyth County Department of Public Health.
The county, Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health will begin offering the new vaccine in addition to the COVID-19 vaccines already in use.
Sometime this week, the three organizations expect to receive 9,000 doses.
The county stressed that, like the other two vaccines, which more than a million North Carolinians have received, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is built on years of research and has been proven to be safe and effective.
The Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This new vaccine also does not need extreme cold storage, so it is easier to ship and store.
“We’re excited to have another tested, safe and effective vaccine available,” said Public Health Director Joshua Swift. “This will be significant in our collective efforts to vaccinate the community and make sure everyone has access to the vaccine. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it is your turn for a vaccine, regardless of the type of vaccine that is available.“
“A one-shot vaccine is a game-changer,” said Dr. Pam Oliver, executive vice president and president Novant Health physician network “We recognize that it can be difficult to take time off work, especially twice in a month. With a one-dose option, it’s now even easier for people to protect themselves against COVID-19. Like the two-dose vaccines already available, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective. A third vaccine option also means additional appointments for our community, which is a step in the right direction.”
“As an infectious disease physician, I am confident that having another safe and effective vaccine will bring us one step closer to protecting our community,” said Wake Forest Baptist Health President Dr. Kevin High. “All three of these vaccines have been found to be effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths and we are grateful to those right here in the Triad who were among the almost 45,000 volunteers who participated in the clinical trial for this vaccine.”