More than 2.7 million South Carolinians will be newly eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine next week.
The Palmetto State will transition into phase 1b of the vaccination plan Monday, March 8. This phase includes all residents ages 55 or older, residents ages 16-64 with underlying health conditions and frontline workers with increased occupational risk including, but not limited to, school staff and daycare workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers and law enforcement officers.
Individuals who work in settings where people are living and working in close contact, including workers and residents in homeless shelters, state and local correctional facility staff with direct inmate contact and residents and workers in group homes are also included as well as health care workers who didn't get the vaccine in phase 1a.
“Throughout South Carolina’s vaccination efforts, our priority has been – and continues to be – saving lives,” S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “In the month of February, South Carolina made tremendous progress on expanding access to vaccinations as the supply of vaccine increased. Our hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare providers became more nimble and efficient at getting shots in arms. Because of these successes, we’re now in a position to make the majority of South Carolinians eligible to receive the vaccine.”
Based on current vaccine supply levels, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control anticipates that phase 1c will begin on approximately April 12. That phase will include all residents ages 45 or older and essential workers not included in phase 1b because they do not have frequent, close contact with others in the work environment.
Phase 2 will begin on approximately May 3 and will include all residents ages 16 or older.
Vaccine appointments can be scheduled online at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator to find a provider, or by calling DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 866-365-8110 for help.
CVS in Aiken is now accepting vaccine appointments. To make an appointment, or to view a list of other CVS locations offering the vaccine, visit cvs.com and click "Check vaccine availability." Residents without online access can call the CVS customer service line at 800-746-7287.
Vaccine appointment slots are available at Aiken Technical College for a Thursday clinic. To register, visit Augusta University Health's website and click "COVID-19 vaccine clinics."
Public health officials estimate it will take 70-80% of the population getting vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and stop COVID-19.
As of March 2, South Carolina has received 1,292,520 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 976,447. There are currently 525,068 vaccine appointments scheduled throughout the state.
A total of 22,364 COVID-19 vaccines, which includes first and second doses, have been administered in Aiken County.
The Palmetto State Teachers Association released a statement Tuesday, saying it is disappointed that teachers were not prioritized in the transition to phase 1b and are, instead, grouped in with everyone else in the phase.
"Today’s action means many teachers will not be able to secure a vaccine appointment for weeks or months," the statement read.
South Carolina health authorities confirmed 12 COVID-19 cases in Aiken County on Tuesday.
DHEC confirmed a total of 496 cases and 13 deaths across the state Tuesday. None of the deaths were in Aiken County.
The data reported Tuesday is for the date of Feb. 28.
Tuesday's report brings the total confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Aiken County to 12,118, with 170 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.
Aiken County also has reported a total of 3,723 probable COVID-19 cases and 37 probable coronavirus-related deaths.
In neighboring Barnwell and Edgefield counties, six and three virus cases were confirmed, respectively, on Tuesday.
The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC statewide Tuesday was 14,821, and the percent positive was 4.6%.
The total number of cases statewide is now 445,523, with 73,300 probable cases, 7,606 confirmed deaths and 970 probable deaths.