The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will open the second part of Group 3 of the vaccine prioritization framework today, March 3, a week earlier than expected, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz wrote in a campus message yesterday afternoon.
This group includes “college and university instructors and support staff” who are working “in-person at [their] place of work, including staff who anticipate an imminent return to an in-person work setting,” as well as other front-line essential workers and researchers, as defined by the NC DHHS.
Here is what this means for the Carolina campus community: Starting today, many University employees will now be able to make an appointment for a vaccination. The University encourages all who are eligible under the definition to get vaccinated. There are three FDA-approved vaccines. The University’s public health and infectious disease experts have indicated that all three vaccines are highly effective and safe, the Chancellor wrote.
Registering with the state
As you may be aware, registering with the state in its COVID-19 Vaccine Management System is a requirement in order to get vaccinated. To make the process easier, the University is working with UNC Health to register all of its employees within the state system. NOTE: If you receive a paycheck from the University, you will be automatically registered into the system. This includes postdocs, teaching assistants and research assistants.
Chancellor Guskiewicz wrote that he expected registration to start immediately and added that you may receive an email directly from the state system with the line: Vaccine Management System <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
This email is confirming your registration with the state. Please keep it for your records. The University will not have access to that registration information. Some people may not receive the email from the state. If you do not receive the registration email, you should email CVMS-Help@dhhs.nc.gov for help. You will still be able to schedule an appointment while you wait for a response.
Making an appointment
You will be able to make your appointment at any vaccination site in the state, if you meet the current Group 3 definition. You will still need to self-identify as an essential employee working in person when you make an appointment. You can find the list of providers on the Carolina Together, NC DHHS and Orange County Health Department (OCHD) websites.
Registering with the state
If you are an undergraduate or graduate student worker who receives a paycheck from the University or a has a work study position, your name will be included in the state registration upload mentioned above. If you are a student worker who is a volunteer who currently works in person, you are eligible for the vaccine, but you will need to register in the state COVID-19 Vaccine Management System, which you can do prior to or during an appointment, based on your vaccine provider’s requirements. You will also need to schedule your vaccination appointment at any provider site on your own.
It is important to note that many students who are essential workers are eligible for the vaccine under Group 3, including people who work in restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, so we strongly encourage you to read the guidance from NC DHHS and OCHD carefully. If you do not qualify for Group 3, you will be eligible to receive it in Group 4 or Group 5, as defined by the state.
The process outlined above is only for those who have not yet received their first dose of the vaccine. If you have already received your first dose of the vaccine, please disregard the email you will receive from the state. If you are awaiting your second dose, please follow the protocols that were given to you at the vaccine provider when you received your first dose.
Questions about the vaccines
For those with questions about these and other aspects of the vaccine, look for information on the Carolina Together website. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NC DHHS and OCHD websites have a lot of information about the vaccines. The University is also planning a town hall with doctors from UNC Health to answer question about the vaccines, and it will share information on that event with our campus as soon as possible.
Vaccines and COVID-19 Community Standards
The University is not requiring students, faculty or staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but it does encourage you to get it once it is available to you. Federal, state and local public health and medical experts agree that having as many people getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best defense against the virus. However, it is essential everyone continue to practice the 3Ws, adhere to the COVID-19 Community Standards and participate in the Carolina Together Testing Program as required for the foreseeable future, even when you have been vaccinated, to prevent transmission of the virus.
“The last year has been incredibly difficult for so many in our community,” Chancellor Guskiewicz wrote, “but with the availability of these vaccines, there is much to be hopeful about in the months ahead.”
Please note on March 9 and 10 there will be Vaccine Town halls. See our calendar for more information.