COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina received its first COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, according to state health officials.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said the state is receiving its first allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now through Wednesday with nearly 43,000 doses anticipated by Wednesday.
Several health care facilities in the state are receiving allocations directly from the federal government and may begin vaccinating their front-line medical workers on Monday.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 11th, the vaccine will not be widely open to everyone until enough is made.
The state is expected to receive between 200,000 to 300,000 doses by the end of the year.
“Our top priority is to save lives,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. “However, as the vaccine first becomes available, the number of doses will be limited in South Carolina, like in all states. We ask everyone to please be patient, wait your turn and listen to our public health officials. Doing this will allow public health officials to ensure the most vulnerable among us and those who keep us alive are vaccinated first.”
With the arrival of its first allocation of the vaccine, South Carolina will be in ‘Phase 1A’ of the state’s interim COVID-19 vaccine plan, and will begin administering the vaccine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee, which is comprised of individuals representing the state’s various communities.
DHEC said the main goal of Phase 1a is to prevent virus-related deaths.
Front-line medical workers and long-term care facility residents and staff are among those prioritized for Phase 1a vaccine distribution.
“To reach our collective goal and stop the spread of COVID-19, we must attend to our frontline healthcare workers first,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC interim Public Health Director. “Ensuring those responsible for treating our COVID-19 patients are the first to be vaccinated is one way of protecting our frontline healthcare workers so that they can continue to protect all of us.”
This includes workers in hospitals and other healthcare facilities who are most critical to saving lives and most at risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, laboratory and radiology technicians, and other medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients. Other mission-critical workers in Phase 1a include:
- First responders who provide emergency medical response,
- Medical staff in correctional facilities, dialysis and infusion centers, and outpatient settings frequently treating COVID-19 patients,
- Home health and hospice workers,
- Autopsy staff and coroners, and
- Other healthcare professionals at high risk of frequent exposure to COVID-19.
The state’s limited supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be safely and securely distributed to 56 sites throughout South Carolina by the end of the week. This Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will require two shots, spaced 21 days apart.