RALEIGH — Those 16 years old or older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.

Wednesday marked the opening of vaccine eligibility for Group 5. This means anyone 16 years and older who wants a COVID-19 vaccination is eligible to get one. The state’s eligibility for adults is ahead of the nation’s targeted date of April 19, set by President Joe Biden.

Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. issued an update on the state’s current data, trends and vaccination progress in anticipation of the new threshold.

“We remain focused on getting people vaccinated as quickly and as equitably as possible and continuing to slow the spread of the virus,” Cooper said at the press conference. “The more people we vaccinate, the more we can safely do.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 5.2 million doses. 39% of those 18 and up is at least partially vaccinated, and 26% of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

“These tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will help us get back in control of our lives and back to the people and places we love — like safely hugging a grandmother, traveling to see vaccinated family or friends, or having a potluck dinner with your vaccinated neighbors,” Dr. Cohen said.

State health officials are continuing to monitor the presence of COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why state health officials say it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.