Hospitals and clinics prepare as COVID-19 vaccine opens to 16 and up

VIDEO: Hospitals and clinics prepare as COVID-19 vaccine opens to 16 and up

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Anyone aged 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday, March 31. Gov. Henry McMaster made the announcement on Friday, skipping the rest of the phased approach planned by DHEC.

Currently, under Phase 1B anyone over 55 years old, people who have underlying health conditions or first responders are able to get the vaccine.

The plan skipped 1C, which would have opened eligibility for those 45 and up and essential workers, instead going to everyone in Phase 2.

State health officials say they want to do everything they can to increase the number of people getting the vaccine. They have also recently reported a decrease in vaccine demand among those currently eligible for appointments.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare will begin scheduling vaccination appointments for South Carolina residents 16 and older next Wednesday.

Officials with the healthcare system say they plan to ramp up to 1,400 vaccinations per day at their drive-thru vaccination site at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Roper Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Oliverio says people should expect long wait times for scheduling appointments.

“Be patient. We are trying, and we are going to do our best to answer every phone call and do our best to fulfill every request for vaccines as we can,” Oliverio said. “We are also not the only ones with vaccines. I want you to get your vaccine as soon as you can. Go wherever you can get it. Don’t worry about brand awareness. Just get it.”

Oliverio encourages people to keep wearing their masks and following safety protocols until herd immunity is reached.

Right now, about 15% of the population is vaccinated, and experts have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of people need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare patients should call their physicians’ office to schedule an appointment. All other people should call (843) 727-DOCS.

MUSC Health will also open appointments to all eligible individuals.

“We will continue to align with the state vaccine rollout distribution plan and look forward to getting more shots into more arms,” MUSC spokesperson Montez Seabrook said.

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VIDEO: Hospitals and clinics prepare as COVID-19 vaccine opens to 16 and up

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