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Vaccines are now available to everyone 16 and older in North Carolina

Group 5 which is made up of 3.5 million people is the second-largest category of the population to be approved for vaccination

GREENSBORO, N.C. — After multiple phases, all North Carolinians 16 and older are now eligible for vaccination. The move has come four months after COVID-19 vaccines were approved and millions of shots have been given.

Group 5 which is made up of 3.5 million people is the second-largest category of the population to be approved for vaccination.

State leaders say it's a significant step towards safely returning to pre-pandemic conditions. High school students make up a large portion of Group 5.

RELATED: Did you pay for a vaccine or an appointment? How to get your money back.

"I feel really hopeful, I really want us to come back to normal," said Chase Clark.

Clark, a junior at Southwest Guilford High who recently rolled up her sleeve to get a shot and is now awaiting her second dose. 

After she and her dad were infected with coronavirus in February, she said she couldn't afford to be without the vaccine. Now she's looking forward to no longer worrying about the virus.

"Having to actually be quarantined and be apart from my family and be apart from things I love to do and enjoy made it very real to me," Clark said.

So far more than 95,000 people in Guilford County are fully vaccinated while 150,000 have already gotten their first dose shots.

Guilford County officials said there are several open spots for anyone who wants the vaccine.

"It's allowing individuals to choose what is the best date and best location for them and they're not having to run out at a specific time to jump on their computers and try to find others," said Don Campbell of Guilford County Emergency Management.

The county is also planning to start mobile clinics in mid-may and would receive its first van on May 15th.

"We have to be able to be flexible and pivot around the needs of our community," said Dr. Iulia Vann, Health Director, Guilford County 

As for Chase and her friends, they're looking forward to regular high school life as the vaccination program aims to achieve herd immunity.

"I am pretty sure that will have it somewhat more traditional than our previous classmates had," Clark said.

While it's recommended, county officials said minors in Group 5 do not need to be accompanied by an adult nor do they require parental consent to get the vaccine.

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