Rest of Group 4 in North Carolina can now get COVID shot

CHARLOTTE — Millions more people across both North Carolina and South Carolina will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday. Both states are expanding eligibility to different groups today.

Starting Wednesday in North Carolina, the rest of Group 4 will be allowed to get their shot. This includes remaining essential workers like those in construction, real estate, retail or hotels. It also includes college students who live in dorms, off-campus apartments or fraternity and sorority houses.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster has opened up vaccination to all state residents 16 and older, saying they could begin receiving the vaccine starting Wednesday.

Those Channel 9 spoke to said the process to get a shot is worth it.

“It feels great,” said Greg Hatcher. “I’ve said great a million times because I am really excited about the idea we are moving back to normal.”

Last week, after citing vaccinations as a key reason for easing restrictions, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that all North Carolinians 16 or older will be eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment starting April 7.

Beginning on March 31, additional essential workers and people living in other congregate settings such as student dorms will be eligible for vaccination. All North Carolinian adults will be eligible to be vaccinated beginning on April 7.

“We aren’t there yet, but in the next couple of months, we will have enough supply for everyone who wants a vaccine to get one,” Cooper said. “When that happens, each of us is going to have to talk with our friends and family who are hesitating about getting vaccinated and convince them to do it.

This is the third time the state has moved up the calendar for vaccination eligibility. Health officials said the accelerated timeline will allow the state and vaccine providers to continue to get vaccines into arms quickly and continue to reach underserved and historically marginalized populations.

“I’m grateful for North Carolinians who are taking this seriously and getting the shot when it’s their time and I’m encouraged that North Carolina will be able to open eligibility to all adults well ahead of the President’s May 1 goal,” said Cooper.

The second phase of Group 4 includes students in congregate living settings, chemical workers, retail workers, hotel employees, construction workers, real estate agents, financial services workers, laundromat workers, plumbers, electricians and exterminators. Read full list here.

All North Carolinians ages 16 or older will qualify for a vaccine under the move to Group 5 on April 7. However, currently the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in people under the age of 18. NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state will work with people in that age group to let them know what providers are offering the Pfizer vaccine.

”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,” 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.”

All people 16 or older with at least one underlying health condition, regardless of their occupation, are currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The opening of Group 5 in two weeks means North Carolina is well ahead of schedule meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of all adults being eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

North Carolina has been recognized nationally for its work to get COVID-19 vaccines to historically marginalized populations. North Carolina was named the only state to collect and publicly report race and ethnicity data for nearly 100% of vaccinations. According to the CDC, two-thirds of those vaccinated in North Carolina between December 14, 2020 and March 1, 2021 were from “highly” or “moderately” vulnerable communities, ranking the state in the top ten for equitable vaccine coverage.

As NC vaccine eligibility expands, local colleges turn to Johnson and Johnson

Whether they live in a dorm, off campus apartment or a fraternity house, college students will be able to get vaccinated starting next week.

“Our vaccine team has been talking with providers constantly to assess where they are in getting vaccines out across the state,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “It varies in different localities, but our overall success has been good and the state is ready to open vaccine access to more adults.”

With the end of the semester coming up, one-dose Johnson and Johnson is the preferred vaccine for college students -- that way students don’t have to worry if they will be on campus for their second dose.

“They would have to hang around here which potentially increases their ability to spread virus or to become infected so we just want to get them done,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said.

Channel 9′s Joe Bruno reached out to several universities in our area about their vaccine plans. Here’s what he learned:

  • Johnson and Wales, a renowned culinary school in Charlotte, partnered with Mecklenburg County Thursday to hold a Johnson & Johnson clinic for 400 students, faculty and staff. Many students are eligible already at the university because of their field of study and employment.
  • Davidson College is planning to partner with Atrium Health in early April to host a Johnson & Johnson clinic on campus. Davidson is expecting roughly 800 doses and students will receive priority for the vaccine.
  • Appalachian State held a vaccination clinic Thursday for eligible students. The school is recruiting nursing students to help administer shots next weeks. Students will receive priority for the vaccine.
  • Wingate University has advised students to make sure they can commit to a second dose before signing up for a first dose. First doses have been issued to 416 people total from their campus community including 250 health science students and student workers who are currently eligible.
  • Central Piedmont Community College has a clinic for college employees on April 6 and hopes to schedule a clinic for students when more become eligible.
  • Johnson C. Smith University does not currently have students on campus but told Channel 9 they hope to serve as a vaccination site for them in the future.
  • The University of North Carolina Charlotte responded to Channel 9 but did not say anything other than they are “working on a plan.”

Many students at UNCC said they are pleased with Governor Cooper’s announcement of a pushed up timeline. Freshman Yamaris Colonmateo hopes a vaccine will help bring normalcy.

“I just want to have the college experience,” she said.

Queens University did not respond to a request for comment.