The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has released the COVID-19 vaccine hierarchy.

To no one’s surprise health care workers at NCDHHS put healthcare workers at the top of the list regardless of age or underlying conditions, and morticians are included in the healthcare worker category even though they don’t actually deal with health care.

The press release states, “Phase 1a: Health care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents.”

But the explanation of who that includes has dentists, environmental services staff, pharmacists and pharmacy students and not just morticians but funeral home staff, not people generally thought of as being on the front line “fighting” COVID-19.

It is quite a hierarchy with phases, sub phases and sub-sub phases. 

Phase 1b starts with anyone 75 years or older regardless of medical condition or where they live.

Phase 1b-Group 2 are healthcare and frontline essential workers who are 50 years of age or older.  Since these people are covered in Phase 1a, it’s hard to imagine who is left in this group to make up Phase 1b-Group 2.

Phase 1b-Group 3 are frontline workers of any age.  Once again they appear to be covered in Phase 1a.

Phase 2 is for adults at high risk for exposure and those who have an increased risk of severe illness.

Phase 2-Group 1 are those between the ages of 65 and 74 regardless of medical condition.

Phase 2-Group 2 are those between 16 and 64 with a medical condition that increases the risk from COVID-19.

Phase 2-Group 3 are people who are in jail or prison and others living in group home situations

Phase 2 Group 4 are essential workers.

Phase 3 are college students and high school students over 16.

And Phase 4 is everybody else which would include people under age 65 who aren’t students and don’t have an underlying medical condition.

The plan is to vaccinate people in that order with Phase 1a being first and continuing down the list to Phase 4 when all adults would be eligible.

Phase 1b-Group 3 is expected to start receiving vaccinations in early January according to the press release.  There is no estimate of when any of the groups after that will be eligible to receive vaccines.