COLUMBIA, S.C. — Starting Wednesday, everyone in the state of South Carolina age 16 and up will be eligible for the the COVID-19 vaccine.
This means all previous restrictions on age or medical condition no longer apply.
South Carolina health officials and Gov. Henry McMaster made the decision last week to open the vaccine up to everyone on March 31.
It also eliminates Phase 1c, which wasn't supposed to start until April 12, and means the state is moving into the phase where everyone can get vaccinated over a month earlier than planned.
Online appointments can be made by using scdhec.gov/vaxlocator or you can call DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for help.
For Ashleigh Cooke, who's younger and is waiting to be vaccinated, she's ready. "It's a good thing for younger people to be able to do it too," she said.
"It's exciting, I hope this means no masks, more protection," she added.
Some residents, like Derrell Richardson, have gotten the first shot and are waiting on his second. "It's a sign of a brighter future," he said. "I look at it as a stepping stone to hope to get back to normal."
There are three vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are approved for anyone 18 and up, while the Pfizer is approved for anyone 16 and up.
Because of that, the registration process for 16 and 17-year-olds is a little different if they go through Prisma Health. They cannot register directly through myChart; instead, they must call the Prisma Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-2-PRISMA or their Prisma Health physician to get an activation link for myChart. Once they have that link, they can register for a vaccine.
For others waiting for their second shot, like Richardson, it's a sense of excitement that the state is on the road to recovery. "I have underlying health conditions so I was glad to at least start the process of getting my shot, so if I do get the coronavirus, at least I have a better chance of surviving it," said Richardson.
"I got vaccinated as quickly as I could," said. Roy Hutchinson said. He is now fully vaccinated. "I hope it means more people can get out and the economy can continue to improve"
His message to everyone else? "Go get vaccinated."
There are several ways you can sign up to get the vaccine, including DHEC's online portal, the Prisma Health website, Lexington Medical Center's site, along with the Publix, Walgreens, Kroger and Doctor's Care websites. Smaller pharmacies and other health care providers are also offering it. DHEC's vaccine locator has a way to find the rest.
According to Prisma Health, as of March 29, Prisma Health gave out 296,975 vaccinations. Prisma Health say they are expecting 30,400 doses this week.