CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., announced Thursday an accelerated timeline for moving to Groups 4 and 5 for vaccine eligibility with the rest of Group 4 eligible on March 31st and all adults eligible beginning April 7.
“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,” Cooper said.
Beginning on March 31, additional essential workers and people living in other congregate settings such as student dormitories will be eligible for vaccination. Essential workers include frontline workers who do not have to in-person for work and those in a range of sectors such as construction, energy, financial services, public works, and others as categorized by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
All North Carolinian adults will be eligible to be vaccinated beginning on April 7.
Additionally, 16-year-olds will be eligible to get a vaccine that has been approved for them; as of now, the only vaccine approved for administration for anyone ages 16 years of age and up is the double set Pfizer/BioNTech shots.
"We’ve been faster and have gotten more supply than we had anticipated, and that’s fantastic," Cooper said. "NCDHHS and our vaccine team here along with providers across the state deserve a lot of thanks."
For accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
Cooper said while we're not there yet, but in the next couple of months, the state will have enough supply for everyone who wants a vaccine to get one.
"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," Cooper said.
Cooper stressed that we shouldn't let our guards down despite the vaccination success.
"The vaccine is our path to recovery. It's the road to normalcy. The pandemic isn't over. We need to keep up our guard, wear our masks and act responsibly," Cooper said.
So far, North Carolina health care providers have administered over 4 million vaccines to eligible patients.
“We’re working with our vaccine providers right now to understand what they are seeing coming through their doors and as the governor said, looking at options for potentially even accelerating moving into the next phase of Group 4 and then even 5,” Cohen said.
However, Cooper and Cohen did not provide a solid metric for when the state government would lift certain mandates, including ones that call for masks to be worn in certain settings. Multiple members of the media asked for more details, but each time Cooper and Cohen touted other reported achievements.
Cohen did note more vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson were on the way within the coming week, although the shipment will contain fewer doses than previously expected. The hope from both her and the governor is to get vaccination rates up enough to ensure appointments can be made more quickly and efficiently, without long wait times.
Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.