North Carolina is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for more people, including prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodial and child care center employees beginning Feb. 24.
“Starting with a smaller number of Group 3 frontline essential workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday, adding that this first segment of Group 3 includes an estimated 240,000 people.
North Carolina is currently vaccinating people in the first two groups of its five-group vaccine plan: health care workers, people ages 65 and older and those who live or work in long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
The state plans to make vaccines available to additional essential workers in Group 3 starting March 10. Group 3, according to North Carolina’s vaccine plan, also includes, among others, grocery store employees, police officers, farmworkers and restaurant employees.
Cooper said that the state will not require people to provide identification that proves they are essential workers before scheduling an appointment, but he said that requirement may vary based on the vaccine provider.
“Obviously, you’re going to rely somewhat on people’s honesty,” Cooper said.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency will have an online portal that allows employers to pre-register their employees for COVID-19 vaccines. Cohen said that could help prevent people who aren’t eligible from scheduling appointments.
“We are asking folks to really abide by these prioritizations," Cohen said. "Everyone will get a shot. But we have to use these prioritizations given the low supply that we have.”
With just 150,000 doses allocated to the state each week, people who are eligible may not be able to schedule an appointment right away, Cohen said.
On Tuesday, Cohen said the state has vaccinated about half of those in Group 2 ages 65 and older. Officials on Wednesday emphasized that the state will continue to vaccinate those in the first two groups even as it moves into Group 3.
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