Berger: State COVID vaccine schedule has inequities

Senate Leader Phil Berger

RALEIGH — Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) told NSJ on Monday that he sees inequities with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

“I look at the fact that a 64 year old who is otherwise healthy is actually slated to get vaccinated after a 21-year-old prisoner in our prison system. And you just ask yourself how and when something like that makes sense,” Berger told NSJ on Monday.

Berger said his understanding is that state health officials are using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines exclusively as the vaccine plan.

The Senate leader said he had no issue with the first couple of groups, Phases 1A and 1B, according to NCDHHS.

“The data tells us those most at risk, generally speaking, are older. So after we take care of the front-line health workers and those 75 and above, I think a better system would be primarily based on age,” said Berger. “I think a fairly simple age program of 65 to 75, 60 to 65, 50 to 60, and then maybe everyone else.”

Berger said an age-based system would be straightforward to police with a driver’s license or other identification.

“Going by age group, you’d get the vaccine to the folks most at risk of taxing health resources or dying if you prioritize that way,” he said.

One of the main issues Berger sees in the state’s vaccine plan is the definition of essential workers.

“I think the public can look at the way the current plan is and walk away scratching their heads,” Berger added.