DHEC distributes letter to mission-critical workers in Phase 1A of S.C. COVID-19 vaccination plan

Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 9:04 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – State health officials in South Carolina continue to ramp up their plans for distributing the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine once it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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A letter from the Department of Health and Environmental Control dated Dec. 10 was sent to all “mission-critical workers engaged in South Carolina’s COVID-19 response.”

That letter discusses plans for those initial doses of the vaccine, of which DHEC anticipates between 200,000 and 300,000.

According to DHEC, Phase 1A of the state’s inoculation plan includes vaccinating:

  • Frontline healthcare workers
  • First responders who provide emergency medical response
  • Medical staff in correctional facilities, dialysis and infusion centers, and outpatient settings frequently treating COVID-19 patients
  • Home health and hospice workers
  • Autopsy staff and coroners
  • Other healthcare professionals at high risk of frequent exposure to COVID-19

“The initial shipments of the vaccine will be limited,” the letter to mission-critical workers states. “Therefore, for the first few weeks we will need to prioritize our focus on vaccinating just those who are currently providing mission-critical work within our hospitals and healthcare facilities and who are most at risk of exposure. In the meantime, we are asking everyone to be patient as you wait your turn to be vaccinated and to listen to your public health officials.”

On Thursday, outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted 17-4 to endorse mass use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA will now have to sign off on that recommendation. Depending on how fast that is, shots could begin within days.

“DHEC is confident that enough vaccines will be available for the general public within the next year. But until that time, we will continue to need to be patient and wait our turn,” the letter to mission-critical workers in S.C. states in part. “Individuals included in the groups identified above as eligible for Phase 1a vaccinations should not contact any hospital or healthcare provider.”

The full letter can be read below:

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