RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers becoming eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with teachers and child care workers on Feb. 24.
“I am grateful to all of our educators and school personnel for going above and beyond in this pandemic to care for children and help them continue to learn,” said Governor Cooper. “Starting with a smaller number of Group 3 frontline essential workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently.”
Other frontline workers in Group 3 like law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store workers, etc., will be eligible for the vaccine starting March 10.
Cooper said the move to Group 3 vaccinations comes as the state will begin getting more vaccine supply in the coming weeks from the federal government.
However, vaccine supply is still limited. State leaders said that's why a gradual move into Group 3 is necessary. Those working in child care and schools, such as teachers, bus and van drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, and food service workers, will be eligible first. See a Deeper Dive here.
North Carolina is currently vaccinating frontline healthcare workers (Group 1) and adults 65 and older (Group 2). More than 40 percent of North Carolina's population of 65 and older adults have been vaccinated.
More than 1.5 million North Carolinians have been vaccinated so far.
WFMY News 2 spoke with teachers following the Governor's announcement.
"For us, this is great news and a big step in what has been a really long journey," said Todd Warren, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators.
"Once we're vaccinated, this is going to be one less thing to worry about in a really, really challenging school year," said teacher Riley Driver.
"I was starting to wonder if it would happen before the end of the school year," said Jillian Steelberg, a GCS first grade teacher, "I will be getting the vaccine the second that I can! And I'll be encouraging my colleagues to do the same."
She's been back in the classroom for a while now, teaching both in-person and virtually.
"[Vaccinating teachers] won't magically fix everything - it's going to take time. But I think it's a huge weight off of our shoulders once we have the vaccines," she said.
Sean Bienert, a GCS high school teacher, said although it seems the Governor's office is listening to teachers, he believes it's not enough, and comes too late - since most teachers will be back in the classrooms and in front of students, before getting the second vaccine dose.
"The ask never gets smaller for teachers," he said, "I sort of look at it, though, like a lot of things in education - it's too little, too late."