COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials provided an update on the state’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines Thursday afternoon.
Since receiving the first doses of the vaccine on Dec. 14, 39,100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in South Carolina.
The vaccine is being rolled out to people in phases based on guidance from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
According to DHEC, South Carolina remains in Phase 1a of distributing the vaccine. Below is an overview of the anticipated categories for each phase.
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Healthcare personnel (with initial focus on healthcare workers critical to the mission of preventing death), including:
- Persons performing direct medical care to suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 patients: medical house staff (i.e., interns, residents, fellows), nurses, nurse’s aides, physical therapists (PT), physicians, physician assistants, respiratory therapists (RT), speech pathologists providing swallowing assessments during a patient’s infectious period, occupational therapists, translators with direct patient contact, students (medical, nursing, PT, RT)
- Ancillary staff directly interacting with suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 patients: laboratory personnel handing potentially infectious specimens, phlebotomists, and radiology technicians
- Emergency room staff in the above categories who provide direct patient care who are at high risk of exposure to undiagnosed, suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 patients
- Paid and volunteer medical first responders (EMS, fire department, and law enforcement personnel who provide emergency medical services as certified EMTs or paramedics) and hospital transport personnel in direct contact with suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 patients
- Persons providing direct medical care in correctional facilities
- Persons providing direct medical care in dialysis and infusion centers
- Workers in outpatient medical settings treating persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection
- Workers in settings where monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 infusions are given
- Home health and Hospice workers
- Public health nurses/personnel at risk for COVID-19 exposure
- Autopsy room staff, coroners, embalmers, and funeral home staff at risk of exposure to bodily fluids
- Dentists and dental hygienists and assistants
- Persons aged 75 years and older (with or without underlying health conditions)
- Frontline essential workers (sectors included by ACIP include fire fighters, law enforcement officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector—teachers, support staff, and daycare workers)
- Essential workers not included in Phase 1b (examples included by ACIP include people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health staff who are non-frontline healthcare workers)
- Persons aged 65-74 years (with or without underlying health conditions)
- Persons aged 16-64 years with underlying health conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 (more information to follow from the SC COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee)
As vaccine supply increases, ACIP vaccination recommendations will expand to include more groups, in Phases 2 and possibly 3. The below outline provides an overview of estimated timeframes for each phase:
- Early Winter – Vaccinations for Phase 1a is anticipated to continue through February 2021.
- Late Winter to early Spring – Based on current CDC guidance, the state will move into Phase 1b once 70 percent of South Carolinians identified in Phase 1a have been vaccinated.
- Spring to Summer – Phase 2 is anticipated to begin in Spring 2021, with the vaccines expected to become available for the general public during the summer and fall of 2021.