HIGH POINT, N.C. — The general public can now get vaccinated in North Carolina as the state moved to the final Group 5 stage, Wednesday.
Anyone 16 and older can book an appointment for the coronavirus vaccine. Roughly 3.5 million people who make up Group 5 joined the list of those eligible.
One High Point couple who knows firsthand the trauma that COVID-19 can bring is thrilled to get vaccinated.
"I am doing a lot better I received my second shot yesterday and had a little bit of a low-grade fever," Rory Baker of High Point said.
Baker is the pastor at Fruit of the Spirit Ministries in Greensboro. He fell gravely ill after contracting COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital on Easter weekend in April 2020. He spent a number of his 87 day-stay at Wake Forest Baptist Health's High Point Medical Center on life support.
"It's hard to believe that I am where I am today, even my doctors and everything never thought that I would survive, as bad as I was," Baker said.
Baker's recovery was also a struggle. The father of seven was one of many so-called 'long haulers' who had lingering symptoms and extreme health complications and side effects from the virus after leaving the hospital in June.
His wife Melissa prayed at the hospital window daily for her husband and medical staff.
"He still had to go back to the hospital for his heart surgery, for the tips of his toes to be amputated. God still allowed him to survive all of that and we're just grateful," said Melissa Baker.
So when the vaccines were available and their group eligible, the Bakers secured their spot for shots.
"I was definitely on board with getting the vaccine as soon as I could," Melissa said.
"The more you have to protect you, the better you are going to be," Baker said.
Baker's voice has improved and he has returned to preaching at church in the socially distanced setting with the congregation wearing masks.
He has now started making big plans for the family this summer, plans which they could not have considered a year ago.
"I want to go to the beach... Myrtle Beach South Carolina," he said with a big smile.