VACCINE Q&A: Which vaccine phase will I be in?

VACCINE Q&A: Which vaccine phase will I be in?
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control continues to finalize plans for future phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control continues to finalize plans for future phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

But here’s a look at who they plan to include in the various phases and estimates of when those phases will open for vaccine appointments, based on DHEC’s website.

Phase 1A (Currently open)

Phase 1A mission-critical workers and individuals include:

  • 70+ year-olds, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions
  • As of Monday, people 65 and over, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions, will be eligible to receive the vaccine
  • Anesthesiology assistants, registered cardiovascular invasive specialists, and operating room staff
  • Athletic Trainers
  • American Sign Language and other interpreters in healthcare facilities
  • Autopsy room staff, coroners, embalmers, and funeral home staff at risk of exposure to bodily fluids
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists and dental hygienists and technicians
  • Dietary and food services staff in healthcare facilities
  • Environmental services staff in healthcare facilities
  • Harbor pilots
  • Home caregivers for children who have a tracheostomy, are ventilator-dependent or who have a Medically Complex Children’s Waiver. The Medically Complex Children’s Waiver is a statewide program to serve children who meet either Nursing Facility or Intermediate Care Facility-Intellectually Disabled level of care and medical criteria. Requires a medical provider’s signed attestation to confirm caregiver meets criteria.
  • Home health and hospice workers
  • Hospital transport personnel
  • Hospital inpatients 65 and older
  • Laboratory personnel and phlebotomists
  • Licensed dietitians
  • Long-Term Care Facility residents and staff
  • Medical assistants
  • Medical first responders (paid and volunteer): EMS; fire department and law enforcement personnel who provide emergency medical care
  • Nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse’s aides/ assistants
  • Opticians and optometrists and assistants/ technicians
  • Persons providing medical care in correctional facilities and correctional officers
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Physical and occupational therapists and assistants
  • Physicians, including medical house staff (i.e., interns, residents, fellows), and physician assistants
  • Podiatrists
  • Public health healthcare workers who are frequently interacting with persons with potential COVID-19 infection
  • Radiology technicians
  • Respiratory care practitioners, such as respiratory therapists
  • Speech language pathologists and assistants and audiologists
  • State/local government employees and their contractors who are mission-critical for maintaining operations of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in SC
  • Students and interns of the above categories

DHEC estimates 987,039 people in South Carolina fall into this phase.

For the remaining phases, the exact timing and makeup of each phase could change because of vaccine availability, demand, and provider participation.

Phase 1B (Early Spring)

Frontline essential workers in Phase 1B are expected to include:

  • Firefighters
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Corrections officers
  • Food and agricultural workers
  • USPS workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Public transit workers,
  • Those who work in the educational sector—teachers, support staff, and daycare workers.

Frontline essential workers are only those considered at highest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2 who experience unavoidable, substantially increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

DHEC estimates there are approximately 573,501 people in this phase.

Phase 1C (Late spring)

DHEC says Phase 1C will open up vaccine eligibility to the largest number of people of the earlier phases.

  • People aged 16 and older with certain underlying health conditions (as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that puts them at high risk for severe disease:
    • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
    • Cancer
    • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Down Syndrome
    • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies)
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
    • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
    • Liver disease
    • Obesity (BMI greater than 30 but below 40)
    • Overweight (BMI greater than 25 but below 30)
    • Pregnancy
    • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
    • Severe obesity (BMI greater than 40)
    • Sickle Cell disease
    • Smokers
    • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
    • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Other essential workers (expected to include):
    • People who work in transportation and logistics
    • Food service
    • Housing construction and finance
    • Information technology
    • Communications
    • Energy
    • Law
    • Media
    • Public safety
    • Public health staff who are non-frontline healthcare workers

DHEC estimates this group to include nearly 2.9 million people in South Carolina.

Phase 2 (Summer-Fall)

Phase 2 vaccinations are expected to begin in the summer, with vaccines expected to become available for the general public during the summer and fall. Phase 2 will include all people who wish to be vaccinated.

DHEC estimates this remaining group to comprise some 690,000 in South Carolina.

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