GREENSBORO, N.C. — Even as the vaccine rollout speeds up significantly in North Carolina, not everyone who wants a vaccine can get one. Who can depends on each state's prioritization of certain groups.
WFMY News 2 viewer Joan Ashley asked, "Does the 'cancer' inclusion (in Group 4) refer to current patients undergoing treatment, persons who have previously had / survived cancer or both?
There are five vaccine groups in NC. Currently, Groups 1, 2 and 3 are eligible. Up next, possibly by the end of the month, is Group 4, which includes people ages 16 to 64 with higher-risk medical conditions. You'll notice cancer is number two on the NC DHHS Group 4 list, followed by history of stroke. Note the cancer line does not specify history of cancer. Why?
The CDC states, "Having cancer (currently) increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. At this time, it is not known whether having a history of cancer increases your risk."
NC DHHS representative Catie Armstrong echoed the CDC's stance, explaining, "People with high-risk medical conditions include anyone with conditions that have been identified by the CDC as increasing risk for severe illness."
However, she noted, "People could be vaccinated in various priority groups based on age, job role, living situation or qualifying condition."
Local vaccine providers seem to be adhering to the CDC and state guidelines in booking appointments. Guilford County Health Department director, Iulia Vann, MD, said her department -- like others -- is awaiting more guidance on Group 4 eligibility, since that group hasn't opened. But, she noted people do not have to show proof of medical histories when booking or arriving at their appointments.
"Just as a first thought about that, as long as they have some underlying health condition that is putting them at risk -- either now or in the past -- that might have left some kind of residual health challenges, they're going to be qualified for the Group 4," Vann said.
A history of cancer, alone, does not prioritize you in Group 4. Unless you have another qualifying factor, you might have to wait until Group 5, the last group. Even then, Pres. Joe Biden said every American should have access to a vaccine by the end of May.
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