People ages 16 to 64 with medical conditions that put them at high risk for serious illness if they are exposed to COVID-19, as well as others in the North Carolina’s vaccine priority Group 4, will be able to get vaccinated starting March 17, Governor Roy Cooper announced at a briefing yesterday.

All Group 4 members previously had been eligible for vaccination as of March 23.

The Governor announced that the State has divided up Group 4, so that people with high-risk medical conditions and people who are homeless or incarcerated and have not yet been vaccinated, will be eligible for vaccination March 17, while all others in Group 4 will be eligible April 7.

Included in the latter group are essential workers who did not meet the Group 3 criteria for “frontline” workers and other people living in group settings who have not yet been vaccinated, such as students in dormitories and fraternity/sorority houses.

The State’s list of Group 4 essential workers is extensive and includes those who work in chemical plants, public works, real estate and housing, communications, and information technology.

For more information about Group 4 and the new divisions, see:


Governor Cooper was able to expedite Group 4’s eligibility because many of the State’s vaccine providers—including the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services—are ready to administer vaccinations to this group.

The Governor was previously able to move up the eligibility date for Group 3 because of provider efficiency.

The DCDHHS announced Tuesday that it had started accepting vaccine registrations from Group 4, but it warned that registrants may not hear from the county health department about an appointment for at least two weeks. That should change for registrants in the first division with the Governor’s accelerated scheduling.

See The Beacon, 3/10/21, for background.

You may register on the DCDHHS website at https://www.darenc.com/departments/health-human-services/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine.

Some of the medical conditions identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as high-risk include asthma, cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes type 1 or 2, a heart condition, hypertension, neurologic conditions such as dementia and schizophrenia, obesity, and pregnancy.

People who are current smokers or former smokers who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime are also considered to have a high-risk medical condition.

For a list of conditions, see https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines/find-your-spot-take-your-shot/deeper-dive-group-4#age-16-64-w-higher-risk-medical-conditions-and-additional-congregate-settings.

Besides provider efficiency, an increase in vaccine supply is driving the eligibility change.

State health officials expect North Carolina to receive as many as 400,000 first doses of vaccine per week by the beginning of April. This is an increase of 175,000 doses per week. It was made possible in large part by the production of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine.

Only one vaccine priority group remains after Group 4.

Group 5 consists of “everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination,” according to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services—no conditions attached.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/12/21

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