CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, a question WCNC Charlotte has been asked often came up again this week: when can I get vaccinated in North Carolina?
There are five groups, with the last group, Group 5, containing the general public.
Groups 1 through 4 contain individuals with select health conditions and specific front-line jobs.
The next part of the vaccine rollout is Group 4, which includes individuals with pre-existing health conditions and those essential workers not yet vaccinated.
What are pre-existing conditions for Group 4?
Start March 17, those with pre-existing health conditions on the list below are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina.
This population includes anyone with conditions that have been identified by the CDC as increasing risk for severe COVID-19 illness. The CDC may update the list of high-risk conditions as scientists learn more about COVID-19. NCDHHS will update the list accordingly:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Diabetes type 1 or 2
- 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
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome
- Liver disease, including hepatitis
- Neurologic conditions,such as dementia and schizophrenia
- 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)
Who are people living in close group living settings?
Starting March 17 those people living in congregate or close group living settings who are not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition, or job function, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina. These people include:
- People experiencing homelessness or living in a homeless shelter
- Correctional facility, such as jail or prison
Previous groups included the staff and residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Those people remain eligible for the vaccine.
Who are the essential workers in Group 4?
Those essential, front-line workers not previously vaccinated become eligible in Group 4 if their job or occupation is listed below. The eligibility starts April 7.
Essential workers include:
- Those working in the essential sectors identified in Group 3 who did not meet the criteria for frontline. Essential sectors identified in Group 3 include critical manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, health care and public health, public safety and transportation. See Deeper Dive Group 3.
- Those working in additional essential sectors as defined below.
- Chemical (including workers in petrochemical plants, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical facilities, consumer products)
- Commercial facilities (including retail workers, hotel workers)
- Communications and information technology (service repair dispatchers, data center operators)
- Defense industrial base (including workers supporting essential services to meet national security commitments)
- Energy (including electric, petroleum, natural and propane gas workers)
- Financial services (including workers who maintain systems for processing financial transactions, workers needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services)
- Hazardous materials (including nuclear facilities workers, workers managing medical waste)
- Hygiene products and services (including laundromats, sanitation workers)
- Public works and infrastructure support services (including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, workers supporting parks)
- Residential facilities, housing and real estate
- Water and wastewater (including staff at water authorities, wastewater treatment facilities, water sampling and monitoring)
The essential sectors and workers, as categorized by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), align with federal prioritization guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations.
What about college students?
Beginning April 7, those students living in dormitories or other group living settings (e.g., fraternity or sorority houses), who are not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function, become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in North Carolina.
NCDHHS shared a "deeper dive" post on their website detailing exactly who can get the shot at first in Group 4: "people with high-risk medical conditions, people experiencing homelessness, and incarcerated people who have not been vaccinated" are listed as those who will be at the front of the line. DHHS says after that, more high-risk people living in close group settings. The agency also notes more essential workers will be slated to get the vaccine under Group 4 as well who weren't deemed "frontline essential" for Group 3.
Those listed under Group 4 with high-risk medical conditions includes people living with moderate to severe asthma, cancer patients, people living with Down Syndrome, citizens with heart conditions, people living with HIV or other immune deficiencies, those who are pregnant, and other people with chronic conditions. Further, inmates and people living in homeless shelters are at the front of the line too.
Meanwhile, essential workers not deemed "frontline essential" who are now eligible after more at-risk people get their shot includes chemical workers, retail and hotel workers, IT and communications employees, energy workers, certain financial services employees, hazardous materials workers, public works service providers, and laundromat and sanitation employees, and the defense industrial base. Check the above link to see if your specific position meets the qualifications.
Additionally, students living in dorms or other group settings (like a fraternity or sorority house) who haven't been vaccinated yet under previous vaccine groups are now eligible for their vaccine too.