Western Carolina University officials continue to monitor and evaluate COVID-19 metrics and vaccines on a daily basis and communicate regularly with representatives from Cherokee Indian Hospital, Harris Regional Hospital, Jackson County Public Health, Southwestern Community College and Jackson County Public Schools, as well with representatives from the University of North Carolina System.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has published an updated explanation of where higher education faculty and staff fall in the North Carolina Prioritization framework.
Additionally, Western Carolina University has been selected by the UNC System as a regional vaccination site. Planning is underway on this effort and depending upon vaccine availability, WCU’s anticipates the vaccine clinic will open by mid-February. As more details become available campus will be notified.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is managing the planning and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine with local public health departments and healthcare providers. WCU has applied to become a vaccine provider, but is not yet approved. WCU also will work with regional public health departments and hospitals to assist in vaccination efforts as necessary; however, the University does not have its own vaccine supply, nor does it have the authority to develop its own independent prioritization framework.
To review these guidelines, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
NCDHHS has established a Vaccine Prioritization Framework with five priority groups (effective Jan. 14).
There is no longer a separate group or category for education workers. Instead, WCU faculty and staff are eligible for the vaccine based on the Group that applies to that individual.
There is no longer a separate category prioritizing students. Students become eligible for the vaccine based on the Group into which an individual student falls. For example:
WCU has been approved to become a vaccine provider and has been selected by the UNC System as a regional vaccination site. We anticipate the site to open once availability of vaccine supply increases. WCU also is working with the UNC System Office and the UNC Collaboratory to receive several ultracold freezers that will allow us to properly store the Pfizer vaccine. Additionally, WCU is working with state and county public health officials to determine how the University can support community vaccination activities.
Once NCDHHS has identified a group as active, you may be eligible for a vaccine. Until WCU is approved as a vaccine provider, you should contact your county public health office; however, please be mindful that local health departments and hospitals are dealing with a large volume of individuals requesting vaccination.
Please do not call a provider for an appointment until your eligible phase is announced.
The vaccine currently is in very limited supply. Health departments and hospitals are prioritizing healthcare workers and persons 65 years and older. Everyone will have a chance to receive a vaccination, but the timeline may be delayed and lengthened in many cases.