South Carolina makes COVID-19 vaccine available to people 65 and older

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Starting Monday, people 65 and older can start signing up to make their coronavirus vaccine appointments in South Carolina.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control announced last Wednesday South Carolina residents meeting the age requirement, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions, can start scheduling appointments starting Monday. About four out of every five COVID-19 deaths in the state have been among people 65 and older, the agency said in a statement.

The tweak to the state’s vaccine plan will add about 309,000 people between the ages of 65 and 69 to the eligible population pool, as the health agency made shots available to those 70 and up in mid-January. The state is currently still in Phase 1a of its vaccine plan, which includes health care workers, seniors and long-term care facility residents and staff.

Previously, South Carolina’s guidelines would have placed 65- through 69-year-olds to phase 1C of its vaccine plan, behind an estimated 570,000 essential frontline workers. That led to some frustration by residents who pointed out that many other states, including neighboring North Carolina and Georgia, had already started vaccinating people 65 and up.

As of mid-day last Wednesday, South Carolina had received 777,250 vaccine doses and given 439,888 shots, with another 382,695 appointments scheduled. The health department has said it will see a modest increase in its upcoming vaccine allocations, getting an extra 10,000 Moderna doses from the federal government weekly.

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The state is still seeing high levels of the virus, with more than 1,800 deaths reported in the last month. But the state’s daily percent positive rate for tests has dropped significantly, from 20.1% reported last Monday to 8.8% last Tuesday.

That’s because DHEC has changed the way it calculates that figure to better compare it to the percent positivity rates of other state and federal agencies, the department said Tuesday. The lower number does not mean the level of spread in the community has decreased, the agency emphasized.

  • Beginning Monday, Feb. 8, those 65 and older can begin to schedule appointments to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at locations currently accepting vaccine appointments.
  • DHEC’s online map shows the locations currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccine and the contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. The map itself is not a way to schedule an appointment.
  • People can also call DHEC’s Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 for assistance in locating contact information for making an appointment. The Care Line can’t schedule an appointment but can help provide the phone numbers of locations offering vaccine appointments. The Care Line also assists people with general questions about COVID-19, testing and scheduling an appointment for other health department services.
  • Starting Jan. 29, people can call DHEC’s Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for questions about COVID-19 vaccines or those who need help finding vaccine providers and their contact information.
  • Appointments should be scheduled; walk-ins may not be able to receive vaccine.
  • You will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at your appointment that confirms your age in order to receive vaccine.
  • South Carolina residency is not a requirement to receive a vaccine.
  • The appointment scheduling phone line for each location may operate different hours of the day. This isn’t determined by DHEC.
  • South Carolina, like all states, currently has limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine. Some locations that offer vaccine may not have an appointment available for several weeks, depending on their vaccine supply. Facilities receive doses of vaccine each week from the federal government.
  • Individuals are encouraged to schedule their second shot as soon as they can. It’s important that individuals receive both doses of the same brand of vaccine to ensure they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.