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S.C. committee considers who should be in next COVID-19 vaccine phase

South Carolina’s Vaccine Advisory Committee is discussing and deliberating who to recommend be...
South Carolina’s Vaccine Advisory Committee is discussing and deliberating who to recommend be part of a finalized list in Phase 1-B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.(KXII)
Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 9:48 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina’s Vaccine Advisory Committee is discussing and deliberating who to recommend be part of a finalized list in Phase 1-B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

DHEC began posting the agenda and recording for the committee’s weekly meeting this week.

As the state moves through Phase 1-A of distribution, many are anxiously awaiting what exactly the next phase will look like.

Though Phase 1-B has not been solidified yet, the CDC’s advisory panel (ACIP) has decided on this guidance:

  • All people age 75 years and older
  • Frontline essential workers -- Sectors included by ACIP: firefighters, law enforcement officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, USPS workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector—teachers, support staff, and daycare workers

DHEC’s own advisory committee is working off of this guidance to specify and clarify what distribution should look like in South Carolina.

The following is a working list DHEC officials presented to the committee Wednesday, which includes clarification of some specific populations determined should also be included in Phase 1-B.

There are other workers outside of this list that are not included due to already being discussed in past meetings. This includes people like K-12 educators.

  • Three categories in Phase 1-B:
    • Age 75 years or older
    • Workers in health care settings not vaccinated in 1-A
    • Frontline essential workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure – that is their occupational risk is above the general population
  • YES, meets the frontline essential worker definition for 1-B:
    • Linen services workers exposed to the linen and laundry from hospitals that have been contaminated by COVID-19 (exposure to possible infectious material)
    • Organ Procurement Organization workers (increased risk while in ICUs)
    • Food pantry and food bank workers and volunteers (uncontrolled exposure to the public)
    • Retail/grocery store clerks (uncontrolled exposure to the public)
    • Neuropsychology, behavioral, mental health and counseling workers (heathcare workers not vaccinated in 1a)
    • Durable medical equipment providers - delivers oxygen, CPAP, other respiratory equipment to homes (exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases)
    • Those who perform COVID-19 testing/vaccinating sites (exposure to suspected COVID-19 cases) – high contact with public, vaccinators provide essential service
    • American Sign Language and other interpreters who work in medical settings (HCWs not vaccinated in 1a)
    • Food manufacturing, meat, poultry workers and livestock producers and agricultural workers (higher risk of exposure because of congregate work setting)
    • Wholesale healthcare medications, healthcare products deliver and medical device companies (yes, if vendors entering operating rooms, not those talking to physicians during office visits)
    • Psychiatric care providers who enter nursing homes

Dr. Linda Bell, DHEC’s state epidemiologist, estimated that 350,000 people are included in Phase 1-A. An estimate for Phase 1-B includes about one million people. Phase 1-C could include roughly 3 million people.

These three phases include the majority of the state’s population before finally transitioning to Phase 2, where vaccine would be available to anyone who wants it.

It’s not clear when DHEC will release a finalized list for Phase 1-B.

“We had anticipated in being in Phase 1-A until February – the governor’s directive may change that. We had anticipated in being in Phase 1-B through the winter and possibly into March, taking at least a couple of months to reach those individuals,” Bell said. “We may not be able to vaccinate the general public until the early spring and on, depending on how quickly we move through this.

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