Cooper sets May 1 goal for statewide vaccination eligibility

The announcement puts North Carolina in line to meet a national vaccination goal set by President Joe Biden.

All North Carolina residents should be eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by May 1, Gov. Roy Cooper said on Wednesday. 

If Cooper is correct, North Carolina would be in compliance with a deadline set last week by President Joe Biden, who said during a primetime address to the nation that he had  set a goal for Americans to be able to gather in small groups by the Fourth of July and for all adults to be eligible for vaccine sign-ups by May 1.

“North Carolina will be ready to meet [Biden’s] challenge, thanks to our vaccine team’s planning, increased supply and the hard work of providers,” Cooper said Wednesday. 

With more than 3.4 million shots administered as of Wednesday, Cooper said 25.7% of adults 18 and older have had at least one shot, and 16.5% have been fully vaccinated. In total, 1.3 million North Carolina residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of Wednesday. 

“That’s fast,” Cooper said. 

The May 1 eligibility date does not mean that every North Carolina resident who wants a vaccine will get one by then — only that every adult in the state will be eligible. Vaccinating the state’s roughly 7.9 million adults will depend on many factors, including logistics and vaccine availability.  

Biden’s timeline also doesn’t factor in severe weather, which could halt vaccination appointments. For instance, a tornado outbreak is expected to hit multiple Southeastern states in the coming days — including Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina. 

‘Take this seriously’

Cooper’s push to expedite vaccinations comes as North Carolina’s Covid-19 numbers have fallen. Still, state health officials are keeping an eye on Covid-19 variants, the governor said. As of Tuesday, North Carolina has 43 confirmed variant cases of Covid-19, according to data from the CDC

“We need to wear our masks, take this seriously and act responsibly,” Cooper said of the variants. “We’ll continue emphasizing prevention, even as we focus our priority on distributing vaccines in a way that’s fast and fair.”

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said she expects the state to see an increase in its weekly vaccine supply as more of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine becomes available. The state received an initial shipment of about 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this month. Mecklenburg County got about 10,000 doses from that shipment.

Jonathan Limehouse
Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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