COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — According to DHEC, there are close to 1.3 million people estimated in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan.
The newest group added to Phase 1A, South Carolinians between the ages of 65 and 69, began scheduling appointments for the vaccine Monday.
Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer for COVID-19 said the agency’s phone lines received about a 1,000 calls an hour Monday.
He said, “The DHEC COVID-19 Vaccination Line and Care Line are working smoothly right now. We have activated all agents to help with the expected increase in calls.”
State health officials estimate by adding this group, an additional 300,000 South Carolinians became eligible for the vaccine Monday.
Kacka said, “Unfortunately, when you have a larger population shifted into that Phase 1-A you’re going to have more challenge getting the vaccine out.”
Right now, South Carolina has received about 950,000 vaccine doses from the federal government.
According to Kacka, decisions on vaccine eligibility are join decisions between the agency, Governor’s Office, Vaccine Advisory Committees and other state agencies.
But lawmakers could play a role this week. A bill being discussed on the Senate floor would bump up educators and school staff to Phase 1-A. They are currently in Phase 1-B.
If the bill passes in the Senate it would be sent to the House. Representative Chris Wooten (R-District 69) said he doesn’t believe the vaccinations of teachers and elderly should be an ‘either/or’ decision.
He said, “I’m still up for arguments on both sides. I know we have to get our educators back in the classroom. Our 65 and older are dying from this. It’s a tough situation.”
DHEC estimates South Carolina would transition to Phase 1-B by early spring.