LISTEN: DHEC shares update, details about COVID-19 vaccine

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shared details and answered questions about the potential for a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning.

On October 16th, DHEC submitted the state’s interim vaccine plan to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It met all federal expectations.

Dr. Linda Bell, our state’s epidemiologist, says cost of a vaccine will not be a barrier to any citizens.

“The federal government has committed to making the vaccine available at no charge,” said Dr. Bell. “As well as, we have our insurance providers who will cover an administration fee.”

As far as when a vaccine would be available to the general public, officials say it will be as soon as a vaccine is approved and can be manufactured and distributed. While some doses may come earlier, not everyone who wants the first available round of the vaccine will be able to get it. Initially, it will be in limited supply.

“In Phase 1a, we will be targeting workers in healthcare facilities primarily and others who have key roles to preserve the functioning society,” said Dr. Bell.

DHEC officials say they are unsure of exactly how many doses will be made available during Phase 1a.

For the question of a vaccine mandate, Dr. Jane Kelly, South Carolina’s Assistant State Epidemiologist, explains DHEC will not mandate a vaccine.

“DHEC certainly will not be requiring anybody to receive a vaccine,” said Dr. Kelly. “Individual facilities, however, may have the latitude to determine that someone cannot work at the facility unless they receive the vaccine.”

This is a move that is not unprecedented.

Dr. Kelly assures South Carolinians that researchers are working thoroughly to develop a safe vaccine.

“No steps have been skipped in this vaccine development,” she said.

If you still have questions or want to learn more details about the potential for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can listen to the full call with DHEC below.

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