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People ages 70 and up are next in line for COVID-19 vaccine

On Wednesday, all South Carolinians 70 and older can begin scheduling appointments online or by phone.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — All South Carolinians ages 70 and up will soon get to be vaccinated for COVID-19, regardless of pre-existing conditions or living in a long-term care facility.

"Those aged 70 and older have been the most devastated by this disease in our state," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Interim Public Health Director for DHEC. "More than 67 percent, two thirds, of COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina have been among those aged 70 years and older."

That's why DHEC and Governor McMaster have put the age group next in line for the vaccine. 

RELATED: Anyone in SC over 70 can schedule COVID-19 vaccination starting Wednesday

DHEC has launched a new online tool that shows vaccine providers across the state. Starting Wednesday, January 13, those 70 and older will be able to schedule appointments online.

"It is important to remember that we still have limited vaccine here at the beginning, but each week we are receiving more and more vaccine and we are bringing more and more locations on board to help provide it," Traxler said. "So, if you are not successful at getting an appointment initially just keep trying and you’ll get your appointment."

If someone doesn't have internet access, they can call DHEC's care line at 1-855-472-3432 for help. The phone number is not active until Wednesday.

Lovelace Family Medicine in Newberry County is a vaccine provider for healthcare workers and will soon be accepting people who are at least 70 years old.  

"Our schedule is filling up fast," said Dr. Oscar Lovelace. "So, what we’re working on right now is trying to get set up on Saturday to have four or five stations of vaccine providers giving vaccine."

Lovelace said his practice has the ultra-cold storage capabilities needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

"This is going to be a big effort. It will be controlled chaos, but we got a great team and we’re going to do our very best to get as many people vaccinated," he added.

RELATED: University of South Carolina testing for variant strains of the coronavirus

Lovelace said once someone schedules an appointment with his office and gets vaccinated, they’ll have a follow up appointment in 21 days to receive their second dose.

Like all vaccine providers, Lovelace will send reminders to patients via emails and phone calls for the second appointment. Patients will also receive a vaccine card to remind them of the type of dose they got and on what date.

Vaccines and locations are limited, but the South Carolina Hospital Association told News19 that 50 more healthcare providers will be added to the list of vaccine locations this week.