North Carolina teachers and staff in K-12 schools and childcare workers can start getting the coronavirus vaccine February 24, Gov. Roy Cooper says.
The state is currently vaccinating Groups 1 and 2, healthcare workers, and all people 65 and older.
Teachers will be the first frontline essential workers to get the vaccine in Group 3. Other people working in frontline jobs like police, firefighters, grocery store workers, and bus drivers can start getting the vaccine March 10.
"Starting with a smaller number of Group 3 frontline workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently. Providers can start distributing the vaccine methodically for essential workers while continuing to vaccinate those currently eligible," says Cooper, spreaking at a news conference Wednesday.
Last week, Cooper called on North Carolina's K-12 schools to reopen for in-person learning. But the North Carolina Association of Educators criticized that decision, calling on the state to get teachers vaccinated before they go back in the classroom.
“Vaccine supply limitations continue to impact how fast we can get all North Carolinians vaccinated,” says Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Cooper said the state expects about 240,000 people to be in this next group of teachers and school workers to be vaccinated.
North Carolina is getting about 150,000 first doses each week now, and next week the state will start getting an extra 7,500 shots.
State public health officials in North Carolina reported 3,833 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. Since the first case on March 3, 2020, more than 800,000 people have tested positive for the virus in North Carolina.
There are 2,291 people in the hospital with the virus, according to DHHS.
The department reported 10,181 people have died from the coronavirus in North Carolina as of Wednesday.
The coronavirus numbers continue to improve as does the state's coronavirus vaccine campaign. As of Wednesday, DHHS reported more than 1.3 million doses given out and more than 330,000 people who have gotten both shots.
With Wednesday's announcement, essentially anyone who works in child care or K-12 schools, including bus drivers, security staff, janitors and administrators, can sign up to get vaccinated starting on Feb. 24.
“North Carolina public school educators are eager to get back into their classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so, and today’s announcement from Governor Cooper is an important step forward in making that a possibility,” Tamika Walker Kelly, president of the
North Carolina Association of Educators, says in a statement.
“By giving all educators, including bus drivers, maintenance workers, nutrition workers, and those who work directly in the classroom vaccination priority, we will be able to resume in-person instruction more quickly and safely," she says.