COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – Any South Carolina resident aged 70 or older can begin scheduling an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Jan. 13, state health officials announced.
According to a press release from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, officials are confident the majority of people in Phase 1A who want to be vaccinated have either received their shots or have scheduled an appointment to do so.
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There are currently 146,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in S.C., with 82,266 total doses already administered for a 56% utilization rate, according to DHEC. Additionally, there are 94,926 appointments scheduled by Phase 1A individuals to receive their vaccine over the next several weeks, state health officials announced.
“Because we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration in vaccine usage and appointments in the last week, we have decided to speed things up again,” said S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. “We know that those 70 and older are at the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19. Making sure they have expedited access to the vaccine will help save lives.”
According to DHEC, more than 67% of COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina have been among those 70 and older.
It’s estimated there are roughly 627,800 South Carolinians aged 70 or older in the state, with many already receiving their vaccine through other Phase 1A eligibility, state health officials said.
According to DHEC, this what those residents should know ahead of scheduling an appointment:
Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13, any South Carolina resident who’s at least 70 years old can schedule their appointment for receiving the vaccine:
- Vaccine can only be administered by appointment – you can’t walk into a health care facility and ask for vaccine
- Residents will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at their appointment that confirms their age and, therefore, their eligibility to receive vaccine
- Individuals eligible to receive vaccine can schedule an appointment using this online resource, which currently includes several major hospitals, seven DHEC sites, a DHEC mobile clinic, and 12 Doctor’s Cares locations. An additional 50 locations will be added to this list and available to provide vaccine by the beginning of next week. Individuals can also call the DHEC Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 for assistance with scheduling an appointment.
- As long-term care facility residents and staff continue to receive their Moderna vaccine through the federal Long-Term Care program, the state can soon redirect some Moderna vaccine from that program and make it available to others
- South Carolina is committed to making the limited supply of COVID-19 available to rural and unserved communities who have residents currently eligible to receive vaccine. This is occurring through: an increased number of DHEC mobile clinic locations, where DHEC can bring the vaccine to communities without nearby locations offering vaccine; working with the South Carolina Vaccine Advisory Committee, Office of Rural Health, Office of Minority Affairs, South Carolina Hospital Association, South Carolina Medical Association, and other state and local partners to establish vaccine provider locations to rural and underserved communities; andcontinuing to educate and inform rural, minority, and non-White communities about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two shots separated by 21 days. The Moderna vaccine requires two shots separated by 28 days. You need to receive both shots of the same product; vaccine brands are not interchangeable.
- Both shots are needed for complete protection against COVID-19. After receiving both shots, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 94-95 percent effective in preventing disease.
- Individuals will receive a vaccine card after receiving their first shot, reminding them when their second shot is due. Most providers are also issuing second-dose appointment reminders to patients by way of phone calls, emails or text messages.
- Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death.
- Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and physical distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
Officials with Tidelands Health are asking residents not to call their hospitals or physicians’ office to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine, according to a Facebook post.
“We are working now to adjust our operational plans to this accelerated timeline and will begin scheduling appointments later this week,” the Monday post stated. “We look forward to making the vaccine available to our patients.”
Tidelands Health staff said appointments will not become available for scheduling until later this week, and scheduling will occur via a dedicated phone number.
Conway Medical Center also revealed that it was informed on Monday of the state’s plan to expand the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The hospital said that it is grateful that the state made the decision to allow those 70 and older to start receiving the vaccine.
CMC leaders said they’re now making adjustments to accommodate the group.
“We are prepared to give vaccines to as many people as possible as supply allows. We are diligently working to adjust our plans to meet this accelerated timeline,” CMC stated in an email.
Officials are asking people to not call their hospital or clinics to schedule an appointment at this time. They said more information on scheduling appointments will be released soon.