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S.C. officials expect surge in vaccine supply as millions more get in line

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 2:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina marked two historic milestones this week: More than 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the state, and everyone 16 and older is now eligible to get their shot.

As of Thursday, 2,034,077 doses have been given statewide, with 1,289,672 South Carolina residents having received at least one dose of vaccine.

While vaccine doses remain somewhat limited, South Carolina and other states are seeing an uptick in the number of doses they’re receiving from the federal government.

All three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen — are available to those ages 18 and older, and, currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine available to those aged 16-18.

As of Thursday, 31.4 percent of South Carolinians have received at least one shot, and 17.1 percent are considered fully vaccinated.

“This truly is a monumental feat,” Nick Davidson, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control senior deputy for public health. “It speaks to everything that so many people in our state and across the nation, frankly, have been working to do; to be able to quickly develop and implement and then roll out an unprecedented vaccination program.”

Officials stressed there’s still not enough vaccine doses in the state for everyone who wants one, but they expect significant increases in supply this week that will help meet some of the new demand.

“We have significant additional vaccine coming into the state over the next week, so we’re really excited about that,” Davidson said.

Officials said the state is set to receive nearly 30,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine, which will go to independent pharmacies. The supply is up from a little over 5,000 last week. Officials added that the supply of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also continues to increase.

“We believe anyone who wants their shot will not have to wait long or at all to get it,” Davidson said. “I want to re-emphasize for those who get Pfizer or Moderna vaccine: Do not stop with your first dose, it is absolutely critical and crucial to return for your second dose.”

DHEC officials said it’s too early to know what demand has looked like since opening up vaccine eligibility. They have seen more demand in cities, while some rural clinics have had difficulty filling up all of their available appointments.

“We’ll take a look at where demand is highest and where it’s lowest, and we’ll work with providers to help make sure the vaccine gets to where it’s needed the most,” Davidson said. “We will also continue to reach out to our communities at a local level and work with our community partners and leaders, who are so absolutely central to this vaccination effort, to help understand where and why vaccine administrations would appear to be lacking.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says certain public health recommendations, like masks and physical distancing, can begin to be relaxed once 70 to 80 percent of the population is vaccinated. Until then, it’s important for everyone to continue to wear masks and physically distance, the agency said.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, visit DHEC’s vaccine locator map or call your provider directly to ask about appointment availability. For the latest COVID-19 vaccine information, visit scdhec.gov/vaxfacts.

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  • As of Thursday morning, 25 Savannah River Site employees were quarantined with COVID-19. That’s down from 67 a little over a month ago and 190 about a month earlier at the Department of Energy complex in Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale counties that employs about 11,000 people.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WIS