North Carolina is now vaccinating the first part of Group 4 for the COVID-19 vaccine. In short, that’s everyone age 16 to 64 who has high-risk medical conditions. Here are key points you need to know.

How soon will I get my shot?

Please be patient — this group is large. Far more people fall into Group 4 than there are vaccines available to administer. The state of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services determines how vaccines are distributed across the state. While the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) one-dose vaccine is speeding up vaccinations, demand for the shots far exceeds availability. Novant Health teams will continue to work around-the-clock to activate our wait lists, add appointments and begin vaccinating our high-risk adult populations.

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Who is eligible for Group 4?

There are two parts to Group 4. The first part is anyone at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Those risk factors include:

•Asthma (moderate to severe)

•Cancer: **see more below

•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): 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

•Pregnancy

•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)

Also included in Group 4 are people who are homeless or in jail or prison. More detail on this group may be coming soon. On April 7, the state will move to other essential workers and people living in close group settings.

Do you have to prove your medical condition?

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has said the state is not requiring written proof of medical conditions to qualify for vaccine appointments. It’s Novant Health’s hope, and expectation, that community members only register when they are eligible, and that when they register, they provide truthful and accurate self-identification. While it’s our intention to comply with the state, we are also working to ensure that we do not inadvertently deny access to those who are eligible, and depending on us, to get vaccinated.

COVID-19: Prevention is the best treatment

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Who’s next and when does that start?

Group 5 is the last group in North Carolina. Anyone 18 and older who wants the vaccine. North Carolina has not set a date for Group 5.

How do I get in line for the vaccine?

The single best thing you can do is preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine. As more vaccines become available, Novant Health will notify you via MyChart that you are eligible to schedule an appointment. Patients who do not have MyChart are encouraged to sign up here. You do not have to be a Novant Health patient to sign up for MyChart.

Can cancer patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

In most cases, yes. The American Society of Clinical Oncology states that a “panel of oncology and infectious disease experts agreed that the Pfizer, and now Moderna, vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for the general population and there was no evidence that they would not be safe for most cancer patients. Although, it should be noted that patients receiving immunosuppressive and cytotoxic treatments were excluded from participation in the vaccine trials to date, so there is little to no data on the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in cancer patients.”