CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control say South Carolinians 70 and over will soon be able to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
DHEC says that the first day for sign-ups is Wednesday, and so long as the applicant is 70 or over they are eligible for the vaccine regardless of health status or preexisting conditions.
Click here for DHEC’s vaccine locator.
Based on COVID-19 vaccine data — doses received, administered, and appointments scheduled — South Carolina officials say they are confident the majority of people in Phase 1a who want to be vaccinated have either received their shots or have scheduled appointments to do so.
DHEC says there are currently 146,500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the state, with 82,266 total doses already administered plus 94,926 appointments scheduled by Phase 1a individuals to receive their vaccine over the next several weeks. This is a 56% utilization rate.
More steps are being made to expedite South Carolinians’ access to vaccines but DHEC says decisions will be made based on the use of the vaccine, the number of appointments made, and information on vaccine supply.
“Because we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration in vaccine usage and appointments in the last week, we have decided to speed things up again,” McMaster said. “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.”
“While COVID-19 vaccine is currently limited in South Carolina, like it is in all states, our providers continue to receive ongoing weekly shipments of vaccine from the federal government,” DHEC Interim Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “When evaluating supply versus demand and as the rate of vaccines coming into the state increases compared to the rate of appointments being scheduled, we believe it is appropriate to begin scheduling appointments for additional South Carolinians. Based on current data, the mortality rate from COVID-19 for those 70 and older in South Carolina is approximately 655 deaths per 100,000 individuals. For those under the age of 70, there are approximately 37 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 individuals. This is a staggering comparison and illustrates why vaccinating this population next is critically important in our mission to save lives.”
Reports state more than 67% of COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina have been among those 70 and older.
DHEC says it’s important to know any South Carolina resident who’s at least 70 years old can schedule their appointment for receiving vaccine, starting Wednesday. Vaccines can only be administered by appointment and DHEC stresses walk-in’s will not be allowed.
Residents will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at their appointment, but DHEC says this is just to confirm the patient’s age and, therefore, their eligibility to receive vaccine.
Also DHEC continues to stress the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine are not interchangeable. While both require two shots, Pfizer-BioNTech requires the two shots separated by 21 days, while the Moderna vaccine requires two shots separated by 28 days.
Both shots must be of the same product and vaccine brands are not interchangeable.
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.
DHEC says an additional 50 locations will be added to this list by the beginning of next week.
Individuals can also call the DHEC Care Line at 855-472-3432 for assistance with scheduling an appointment.