Group 4 vaccination date bumped up, more students eligible

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Jesse Barber

Katie Knapp preps needles with the Moderna vaccine for patients.

Jackie Park, Editor-in-Chief

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the next group eligible for COVID-19 vaccines can get their dose one week earlier than expected – including a large group of App State students.

Group 4, which includes adults with high-risk medical conditions and who live in high-risk congregate settings like jails and residence halls, could see shots in arms March 17, instead of its initial timeline of March 24. Other members of Group 4 will be eligible for the vaccine April 7.

“This move to Group 4 is good news. It’s possible because of the tireless work of our state health officials, vaccine providers, federal partners, our North Carolina National Guard and Emergency Management and so many others,” Cooper said. “I want you to know your work is making all the difference.”

The governor said this change is because of increased vaccine supply, in addition to vaccine providers who are requesting to move ahead to the next group. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services surveyed vaccine providers before OKing the move.

People who are classified in either of these groups will not have to “prove” their medical condition or living situation. It will run on honor system.

Cooper said that though some parts of the state will move into the next group March 17, others may not have eligibility then.

Cooper says that 11% of North Carolinians have been fully vaccinated. Approximately 18% of North Carolinians have received at least one shot. Additionally, the governor said, 66% of the state’s 65+ population has a vaccine.

“That’s progress, but we still have much more work to do,” Cooper said. “I’m pleased that our COVID-19 numbers remain stable, and that is due in part to people continuing to wear their masks and use good judgment. We must keep it up.”

North Carolina’s COVID-19 numbers have also improved in recent months, prompting Cooper to relax some COVID-related restrictions. As of March 11, the state has seen 879,825 total cases of the virus. Since yesterday, there have been 2,061 new cases, 1,039 people are hospitalized and 11,622 North Carolinians died due to COVID-19, the governor said.

The governor also emphasized the importance of continuing to wear a mask, despite the move from some other states to lift their mask mandates.

The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and App State moving its classes online. It also comes on the same day App State hosted its first vaccine clinic.