COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As South Carolina remains in Phase 1A of its vaccine rollout, state health officials are adding more people to this phase.
Friday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said all hospitals in the state should provide vaccines to their admitted patients who are 65 years old or older if they do not currently have COVID-19.
“By moving up these patients who are currently admitted in our hospitals we are ensuring that the most vulnerable among us are being vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director.
DHEC said this effort to move admitted patients aged 65 and older into Phase 1A will help get the vaccine to more South Carolinians more quickly.
Hospitals may begin giving the vaccine to these eligible patients immediately.
“DHEC, Governor McMaster, SCHA and hospitals agree this will be another great step toward vaccinating our most vulnerable residents,” Traxler said.
Other people who are eligible in Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, who have not been contacted, should make appointments with hospitals. Click or tap here to get more information on how to do that.
State officials say everyone who wants the vaccine and is in Phase 1A should make their appointments by Jan. 15.
As of Friday, South Carolina has received 146,500 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. To date, 62,632 state residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and 7,698 have also gotten their second dose. An additional 83,844 people have appointments to get vaccinated, DHEC said.
Those who are not a part of Phase 1A should not contact hospitals at this time. DHEC said it will give updates when Phase 1B individuals can begin to receive the vaccine.
DHEC’s announcement comes after CEOs of several of state’s largest hospitals asked to be allowed to vaccinate people 75 years and older.
In a DHEC Board meeting on Thursday, Lexington Medical Center CEO Tod Augsburger said his facilities could be vaccinating more people if it could.
“The sooner we can vaccinate our senior citizens, we can save lives, we can decompress hospitals, we can help our healthcare workers focus on all the other care that they need to give. I know people are working hard but we’ve got to go faster,” he said.
On Friday, a spokesperson from Lexington Medical Center said the announcement is welcome news that will help more people get vaccinated.
It’s unclear how many patients will become eligible as a result of the announcement, but the Census estimates 18.2% of South Carolina’s population is over the age of 65.
That translates to an estimated 937,000 people.