Triangle residents with underlying conditions look forward to receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On March 24, the state plans to start vaccinating people with underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications.

Justina Williams, Kara Smith, and Lucia Romano don’t know each other, but the pandemic has left all three with similar fears and frustrations. Each of them has an underlying condition that raises her risk of COVID-19 complications.

Williams has sickle cell disease, Smith is a liver transplant recipient and Romano has Down syndrome.

Romano used to enjoy her jobs and volunteer work but now she tries to keep busy at home. Smith and Williams are thankful they can work from home, but it can be lonely.

“I would love to see all of my coworkers and just be around everyone again,” said Williams. “It’s a sense of family and I miss that.”

After a year of isolation and worry, the announcement that they’ll soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine comes as a welcome relief.

“I’m so happy that we’re finally getting it for me and for my friends as well,” exclaimed Romano.

“I’m just happy that it’s available for people who have underlying conditions,” added Williams.

“I have a list of things I want to do when I am able to get a vaccine,” explained Smith.

Their post-vaccine wish lists are all pretty simple.

“I want to eat out at a restaurant indoors,” said Smith. “I want to get my haircut, want to go shopping that type of thing.”

“Being able to travel and see my grandmother,” said Williams.

“Hopefully, I might get back to my jobs pretty soon,” said Romano. “And get to see my friends again.”

Once vaccinated, all three say they will continue to take precautions, but won’t have to worry quite so much.

“Living with an underlying condition, we already don’t live a normal lifestyle,” said Williams. “But I think receiving this vaccine will give us some type of normalcy.”

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, conditions included in Group 4 are the following:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke 
  • Chronic kidney disease 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dementia or other neurologic condition 
  • Diabetes type 1 or 2 
  • Down Syndrome 
  • A heart condition such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure 
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from immune deficiencies, HIV, taking chronic steroids or other immune weakening medicines, history of solid organ blood or bone marrow transplant
  • Liver disease, including hepatitis 
  • 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)

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