COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans in North Carolina are changing by the day.
That’s because you’ve got multiple institutions all trying to work together to deliver tens of millions of vaccines with unprecedented challenges presented by a pandemic and the logistics involved maintaining safe ultra-cold conditions for the vaccine. Not to mention the scheduling details for delivering two shots weeks apart for patients when supplies are still limited.
When it comes to who gets the vaccine when, that decision is driven by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), which sets the guidelines for health care organizations to follow. Checking their site — covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines — is the best way to stay abreast of vaccine information in the state.
In mid-January, the state switched from a series of “phases” for outlining distribution plans to “groups.” The graphic at the top of this story illustrates the new outline. It’s important to note: the shift from “phases” to “groups” did not shuffle the order of who gets the vaccine when.
Phase 1a 🠊 GROUP 1
Phase 1b group 1 + Phase 2 group 1 🠊 GROUP 2
Phase 1b groups 2/3 🠊 GROUP 3
Phase 2 groups 2/3/4 🠊 GROUP 4
Phase 3 + Phase 4 🠊 GROUP 5
Here’s the plan verbatim from the state site:
“Group 1: Health care workers & Long-term care staff and residents
- Health care workers with in-person patient contact
- Long-term care staff and residents—people in skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities
Group 2: Older adults
- Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation
Group 3: Front-line essential workers
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19
Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness
- Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
- Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
- Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers
Group 5: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination”
Key points to remember: until you hear otherwise, you’ll need to continue wearing a face mask and practice social distancing. At the moment, public health experts say even those vaccinated must continue both practices because it’s not know whether vaccinated people could still be capable of spreading the coronavirus.