Any South Carolina resident aged 70 or older can begin scheduling appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced the news Monday, along with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The appointments can be made for these residents even if they don't have health concerns or preexisting conditions.
Aiken Regional Medical Centers is the only location in Aiken where vaccine appointments will be scheduled.
Beginning Wednesday, residents can find vaccination facilities across the state by visiting scdhec.gov/vaxlocator, which is a locator tool. For assistance in scheduling, residents can call the DHEC care line at 1-855-472-3432.
"The hospital is offering multiple vaccine clinic dates throughout January and February, and SCDHEC is quickly expanding clinic availability throughout the state," Jim O'Loughlin, chief executive officer at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, said in a statement.
Vaccines can only be administered by appointments; walk-ins will not be allowed. Residents must bring a driver's license or a form of identification with them to confirm their age.
Based on COVID-19 vaccine data, South Carolina officials are confident the majority of people in phase 1a who want to be vaccinated have either received their shots or have scheduled appointments to do so.
As of Monday, South Carolina has received 147,200 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 71,433 first doses and 15,309 second doses, according to DHEC. Aiken Regional Medical Centers has administered 495 first doses and 75 second doses.
Additionally, there are 94,926 appointments scheduled by phase 1a individuals to receive their vaccine over the next several weeks.
“Because we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration in vaccine usage and appointments in the last week, we have decided to speed things up again,” 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.”
It’s estimated there are roughly 627,800 South Carolinians aged 70 or older in South Carolina, about 12% of the population. About 19% of Aiken's population is aged 70 or older, which compares to 14% of Aiken County's population and 11% of North Augusta.
For the latest COVID-19 vaccine information, visit scdhec.gov/vaxfacts.
DHEC confirmed 83 new COVID-19 cases in Aiken County on Monday and no new deaths.
DHEC confirmed a total of 2,644 cases and 14 deaths across the state Monday. The agency said the low case count is due to an internal systems error that it is actively working to correct. Once the issue is resolved, the case count will be updated online.
The data reported Monday is for the date of Jan. 9.
Monday's report brings the total confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Aiken County to 8,816, with 126 coronavirus-related deaths.
Aiken County also has reported a total of 1,580 probable COVID-19 cases and 20 probable coronavirus-related deaths.
In neighboring Barnwell and Edgefield counties, 16 and 14 virus cases were confirmed respectively on Monday.
According to DHEC's acute hospital bed occupancy report, Aiken County hospitals are at 87.7% occupancy. There are 136 beds occupied, while there are 19 beds open. Across the entire state, there are 2,387 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC statewide Monday was 10,198, and the percent positive was 25.9%.
The total number of cases statewide is now 326,588, with 31,066 probable cases, 5,329 confirmed deaths and 497 probable deaths.