COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina is set to see a big increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses next week, just as the state opens up eligibility to adults 16 and over.
Gov. Henry McMaster announced on Friday that those 16 and older can begin scheduling appointments on Wednesday, March 31.
RELATED COVERAGE | COVID-19 vaccines in SC open to everyone 16 & up starting March 31
Originally, people in that age group weren’t expected to be eligible until May. But during a media briefing, leaders with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said there were a number of factors that allowed the state to expand eligibility.
One factor was the state will be receiving more vaccine allocation. Senior Deputy of Public Health Nick Davidson revealed that next week the state will receive 160,770 doses. To put this into perspective, the state received 106,130 doses a month ago.
Next week’s allocation includes a one-time increase of Pfizer of 15,210 and also an increase of 28,900 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Davidson.
Another factor is that Publix will be added to the federal pharmacy partnership next week. Davidson said stores will receive a federal allocation of 75,000 doses next week, and it won’t come from the state’s allocation.
Davidson also said that moving to the next phase had a lot to do with the fact that there had not been enough demand when it came to filling appointments at clinics.
“We were hearing that clinics were not filling, that appointments were being left untaken, yet we know that there are many other people that want and need the vaccine,” Davidson said. “So it certainly is and will continue to be a balancing act of providing enough vaccine, but also providing enough access.”
State health officials said that with this expansion in eligibility, there will be a rush of interest, so you’re reminded to be aware of that and get your dose whenever you can.
“Folks are going to have more vaccine available and more people are going to qualify for the vaccine, and that is a good thing,” Davidson said. “It does present its own challenges though with the rush, if you will, to get that. So just ask people to do their best to be patient, to explore the opportunities that they have.”
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine made available to those aged 16 and older. Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines will be available to those aged 18 and older.