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SC leaders to give update on vaccine rollout

A significant change in who can get the vaccine was announced this week with anyone over 65 becoming eligible.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina health leaders will give an update Friday on the rollout of the vaccine across the state. 

DHEC has scheduled a briefing at 2 p.m. You'll be able to see that in the video player above. 

Currently 459,858 total doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been injected into people. Of those, over 85,000 are second dose shots, meaning those people are finished with their vaccine series and are fully inoculated. 

People who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines or who need help finding vaccine providers and their contact information are asked to call the DHEC COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.

A significant change in who can get the vaccine was announced this week, when South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster lowered the eligibility age to get the shot from 70 to 65. He said that change means an additional 300,000 people can get the vaccine. 

RELATED: SC age for vaccines lowered to 65, appointments to begin Monday

People in that age bracket do not have to have any preexisting health conditions. On Thursday, he pushed back on a request to add teachers to the group who can immediately get the vaccine, saying that taking away any shots from the elderly--who he said are most vulnerable--would be morally wrong. 

RELATED: SC governor, schools leader want 5 day a week option as soon as possible

“We have a moral and ethical duty to first vaccinate the South Carolinians who are at the highest risk of dying from the virus,” said Gov. Henry McMaster in a statement. “At this time, placing a younger person between a senior citizen and what could be their lifesaving shot would be unconscionable and irresponsible.  

He said teachers would be in the next group to become eligible. 

Some state lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a Republican from Aiken, say teachers should be vaccinated right away. He introduced a resolution this week to do just that, saying that would allow a return to five day a week in-person instruction in all districts soon.

McMaster, joined by State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, said Thursday that the data shows schools can reopen safely even if teachers haven't been given the vaccine.