RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all adults beginning in April, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday.
The rest of Group 4 will be eligible for the vaccine on March 31 – this includes essential workers in commercial services such as hospitality and retail, chemical and pharmaceutical facilities, construction, housing and real estate and other essential sectors.
Group 5 will becomes eligible on April 7. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services describes Group 5 as “everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.”
“We’ve been faster and have gotten more supply than we had anticipated, and that’s fantastic,” Cooper said.
Almost 4.3 million doses have been administered as of Thursday, Cooper said.
“We aren’t there yet, but in the next couple of months, we will have enough supply for everyone who wants a vaccine to get one. When that happens, each of us is going to have to talk with our friends and family who are hesitating about getting vaccinated and convince them to do it,” Cooper said.
Health and Human Services Sec. Dr. Mandy Cohen pointed out that the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved so far for people ages 16 and 17. She said the state is working on updating its vaccine finder tool to help teens who qualify to be able to set up appointments where they would be able to get that particular vaccine.
CBS 17 asked Cooper what goals he and other state leaders have set in terms of the percentage of the population they want to see vaccinated to be able to safely lift restrictions and the mask mandate.
“I don’t think we’re there yet. We want to work with the CDC and see what they say about it,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the summertime where we have a much larger percentage of people who are vaccinated. We can have significantly fewer restrictions.”
Cooper’s announcement on Thursday comes just days after he announced a new executive order that will loosen several COVID-19 restrictions on Friday.
“Our sustained progress with the COVID-19 metrics allowed us this week to ease some additional restrictions beginning tomorrow while maintaining strong safety protocols,” he said. “We are focused on slowing the spread of this virus while continuing to move the economy forward in a safe way.”
Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, barbers/salons/personal care shops can open at 100 percent capacity.
Restaurants, breweries and wineries, amusement parts and gyms, and pools can open at 75 percent capacity.
Bars, sports arena, and other live performance venues can open at 50 percent capacity.
Masks and 6 feet of social distancing will still be required for all of these establishments. Cooper said that means some of them may not be able to reach the maximum occupancy allowed by the order.