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Charleston VA says it has COVID-19 vaccines available, all veterans and spouses eligible

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Nurses Brenda Flanigan-Tyson and Paul Langevin administer COVID-19 vaccines at the new Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in North Charleston on Feb. 1, 2021. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff/File

The local Veterans Affairs medical center has COVID-19 vaccine doses available, and not only to current and former service members enrolled in its care.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston has doses of the Pfizer vaccine ready to inject. A bill President Joe Biden signed into law March 24 expanded the hospital's capability to give the vaccine to any veteran regardless of whether they are enrolled with the VA, as well as to their spouses and caregivers. 

The medical center says it has "numerous" appointments available. It has given out 57,000 doses so far and serves patients both in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.

"Since the start of the pandemic we have been focused on vaccinating as many veterans as possible," the medical center's director and CEO, Scott Isaacks, said in a statement.

Anyone interested who thinks they might qualify for a shot through the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center can call 843-789-6900.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 362 confirmed, 202 probable.

Total cases in S.C.:  476,506 confirmed, 94,100 probable.

Percent positive: 6.2 percent.

New deaths reported: 2 confirmed, 1 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,237 confirmed, 1,118 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 69 percent.

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How S.C. ranks

South Carolina ranks 41st in the nation regarding the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people as of April 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville County (61), York County (37) and Charleston County (27) saw the highest totals. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had 27 new cases on April 20, while Berkeley had 18 and Dorchester had 15.

Deaths

The two confirmed deaths were patients 65 and older.

Hospitalizations

Of the 537 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of April 20, 149 were in the ICU and 66 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a mental health crisis and a rise in overdose deaths due to prescription opioids, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Roughly half of abused prescription drugs come from the medicine cabinets of family or friends. To head off the potential for unused drugs to be misused, the Drug Enforcement Administration wants people to dispose of any pills they don't plan to take during its annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 24.

In South Carolina, 70 sites across the state will participate. Anyone interested can go to takebackday.dea.gov to find a site nearest to them.

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