COLUMBIA, S.C. — Starting Wednesday, people ages 70 and older can start signing up to get the coronavirus vaccine in South Carolina.
Health officials said the state department of health is taking steps to streamline the process.
State officials said Monday that they were confident the majority of people in the state’s earliest phase who wanted to be vaccinated — healthcare workers and those living and working in long-term care facilities — had already received their shots or scheduled appointments.
“Because we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration in vaccine usage and appointments in the last week, we have decided to speed things up again,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “We know that those 70 and older are at the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19. Making sure they have expedited access to the vaccine will help save lives.”
Officials estimate about 627,800 South Carolinians are 70 or older, and many have already received the vaccine because they were eligible earlier. Those who meet the age requirement are now eligible regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions.
Across the state, more than two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths have been among people ages 70 and older. That’s a much higher death rate per capita compared to COVID-19 deaths among those younger than 70, said Interim Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler.
Eligible South Carolinians can signup for appointments with vaccine providers including major hospitals, seven sites and a mobile clinic run by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and some urgent care facilities. The health agency said it will add another 50 locations by the beginning of next week.
Channel 9 learned that the vaccine won’t be given to the public at Piedmont Medical Center.
Hospital officials, business leaders, politicians and others met Tuesday morning to find a location in Rock Hill to hold a huge vaccine clinic. Up to 50 people may staff event. They don’t have a place yet, but expect to in a few days.
South Carolina has received 233,600 doses of both vaccines, and 105,856 doses have been given to health care workers and residents at long-term care facilities.
Piedmont Medical Center CEO Mark Nosacka said people 70 and over should be patient.
“Just because the governor says you can have it, doesn’t mean the hospitals and other institutions have put the personnel in place yet to be able to do it,” Nosacka said.
PMC can’t take nurses from hospital patients and put them in a vaccine clinic, Nosacka said. So, they’re partnering with others to put together a volunteer team to do vaccines.
SC vaccine plan for people 70 and older:
- By appointment only
- Driver’s license or other form of ID to prove age
- Two shots 21 days apart
In York County, volunteers prepared meals to deliver to more than 500 homebound seniors at the Council on Aging.
Many residents don’t use the internet, so volunteers will be including information with their meals about how to get vaccinated.
A new care line from the state health department will go live Wednesday to help people make appointments. The number is 1-855-472-3432.
There will also be a new map on the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website. It will show places that are taking vaccine appointments.
States are moving to expedite their vaccine rollouts as cases have skyrocketed across the nation. In South Carolina, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 1,440.4 over the past two weeks, an increase of 44.3%, according to Johns Hopkins.
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