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South Carolina releases plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccination

The plan includes equally distributing the vaccine throughout the state and giving the initial supply to certain chosen groups.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has submitted the state's COVID-19 vaccine plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

According to DHEC, the goal of the vaccination plan is to equally distribute the vaccine throughout the state, based on federal guidance and recommendations. 

DHEC; the South Carolina Emergency Management Division; South Carolina Hospital Association; National Guard; South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division; Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and other public and private sector partners worked closely to develop the plan, according to the release. 

View the plan online here. 

“Safety is the top priority in any vaccine development and no vaccine will be released until it has undergone the rigorous scientific and clinical testing that’s required as part of all vaccine development,” said Dr. Linda Bell, South Carolina State Epidemiologist. “Scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses, and that earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

During his visit to the Capital City Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said he expects a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready before the first of the year.

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According to DHEC, during the initial phases of the national COVID-19 Vaccination Program, a limited supply of the vaccine will be available. This quantity will be made available to certain groups, including front-line medical workers and nursing home residents. 

Dr. Bell anticipates the vaccine will require two doses, given between 21 to 28 days apart.

There is no concrete date for when the vaccine will be available, but DHEC said they're monitoring closely the vaccine trials going on now.

COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially and be more widely available to the public in 2021.

While initial vaccine studies are centered on adults, Assistant State Epidemiologist for SCDHEC, Dr. Jane Kelly, said one vaccine trial is doing a study among teenagers.

"Certainly we want to vaccinate school children as well, but the initial studies were done with adults," said Kelly. "So until we have the vaccine safety and efficacy information for children, it's hard to say when the vaccine will become available."

For more information, including frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines, visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination.

RELATED: 'Nearly miraculous': CDC director says COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by Jan. 1

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