Dear Carolina Community,
We have exciting news to share today regarding the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in North Carolina. Earlier today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) announced that it will open the second part of Group 3 of the vaccine prioritization framework on March 3, a week earlier than expected. This group includes “College and university instructors and support staff” who are working “in-person at your 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 NC DHHS.
Here is what this means for our campus community: starting this Wednesday, many of you will now be able to make an appointment for a vaccination. If you are eligible under the definition, we encourage you to get vaccinated. There are three FDA-approved vaccines. Our public health and infectious disease experts have indicated that all three vaccines are highly effective and safe. We have more information for both employees and students below.
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, we are working with UNC Health to register all of our employees within the state system. NOTE: If you receive a paycheck from the University, you will be automatically registered into the system. This includes post docs, teaching assistants and research assistants.
We expect this to happen later today, and 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. We have heard that 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 in this email 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
We realize that you will have a lot of questions about this and many other aspects of the vaccine. We have 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. We are also planning a town hall with doctors from UNC Health to answer question about the vaccines and 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 we do 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 our best defense against the virus. However, it is essential we all continue to practice the 3W’s, 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, but with the availability of these vaccines, there is much to be hopeful about in the months ahead.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz