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COVID vaccines coming to South Carolina mid-December

The first round will be for frontline healthcare workers and people living in long-term care facilities.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina could be getting its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines as early as December 14th. 

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) plans to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in three phases. Phase One A starts mid-December and allows frontline healthcare workers to get vaccinated as well as people living in long-term care facilities.

"While we will not be able to cover everyone in Phase One A in that first week, we would be able to as the weeks go on," explained Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly.

Health officials estimate they’ll be able to move to Phase One B by late January or early February. It’s unclear who falls under 'One B', but health officials say it’ll be vulnerable populations and essential workers.

"It is quite limited in the very beginning but as vaccine manufacturing increases, we know we’ll receive repeated shipments on a regular basis," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.

By the end of December, Bell said they’ll have nearly 200 COVID vaccine providers, like hospitals and pharmacy chains, secured across the state.

"To meet that demand and that need in rural, underserved areas, we’re also exploring all other possibilities for nontraditional sites," said Bell. "And in areas where there are a limited number of health care providers, we will make the vaccine available in our DHEC clinics."

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The first batch of vaccines will be from Pfizer, then Bell says they’ll likely start getting shipments from Moderna too. Both vaccines require two doses and are over 90% effective.

"The vaccine is ultimately going to get us out of the pandemic, but these early supplies will not get us there soon enough," Bell warned.

That’s why, Dr. Bell said, it’s important to continue prevention measures that we already have – like wearing masks and social distancing. 

Dr. Bell said their goal is to have all South Carolinians vaccinated who wish to do so, but they want to cover the most vulnerable populations first.  

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