McMaster touts progress in SC vaccinations, but pushes for more

VIDEO: McMaster touts progress in SC vaccinations, but pushes for more

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster called for more to be done to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine quickly in a social media post Sunday.

McMaster provided the number of COVID-19 vaccinations completed across a four-day span, from Jan. 16 through this past Tuesday.

According to the post, the number increased from 1,861 on Jan. 16 to 13,007 on Tuesday.

“While I’m proud to see the improvement, there is still much more to be done to get the vaccine to South Carolinians who want it as quickly as possible,” he said.

The state is still vaccinating people following to its Phase 1A plan, which mostly includes first responders and residents and staff members of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. But in the past two weeks, additional people have been added to the number who can now get the vaccine. Those additions include people 70 and older; those 65 and older who are hospitalized; employees who are mission-critical for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in the state, and parents who are home caregivers of a child who is medically fragile or complex or severely disabled.

DHEC planning for Phase 1B

It is not yet clear when those listed in Phase 1B will be able to begin making appointments for their vaccination. The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control is working on a rollout plan that included surveying businesses for input about the number of people in their workplaces who meet the COVID-19 vaccination definition for “essential workers” and the number who plan to take the vaccine when it does become an option for them.

DHEC’s listing of Phase 1B on their website included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee recommendations. DHEC’s committee has been working to adapt those recommendations to South Carolina.

A draft for Phase 1B includes the following people:

  • Public safety officers, firefighters not previously vaccinated in 1a.
  • Frontline essential workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at an unavoidable, substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, that is, their occupational risk is above the general population. Such as:
    • Meat and poultry packing workers or other industrial settings unable to keep distance at work
    • Other frontline essential workers meeting the above definition include some, but not all, workers in the following sectors:
      • Food and agricultural
      • U.S. Postal Service
      • Manufacturing
      • Grocery store
      • Public transit
      • Education sector (teachers and support staff members) and child-care

People living and working in shared or overcrowded settings at increasing risk of infection who could be included in Phase 1b as well:

  • Residents and workers in group home settings with behavioral or substance use disorder conditions or for the mentally or physically disabled not previously vaccinated in Phase 1a
  • Workers and residents in homeless shelters
  • Workers and residents in community training homes
  • Correctional facility officials with close inmate contact
  • Correctional and immigration detention facility inmates
  • Migrant farmworkers living in shared housing or using shared transportation
  • Meat and poultry packing workers or other industrial settings unable to keep distance at work
  • Department of Agriculture meat/poultry inspector

The plan recommends the vaccine become available for those in Phase 1B when at least 70% of those included in Phase 1A who wish to be vaccinated have received their dose. But state officials have not set a firm date on when to expect that to happen.

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