South Carolina asking people to ‘just be honest’ for eligibility under phase 1B of COVID vaccine

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A healthcare worker holds vials containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign at the Klerksdorp Hospital on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) –  DHEC is asking people to “just be honest” and consult with their employers or doctors when it comes to deciding whether they are eligible for the COVID vaccine under phase 1B.

“So in essence, we are asking South Carolinians to just be honest, to consult with their employer or their healthcare provider about whether they meet the current vaccine eligibility if they’re not sure,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said on Wednesday. 

“And to realize how important it is not to jump the line,” Bell added, “because it’s jumping the line that takes the vaccine doses away that could truly be life saving for someone who may be at higher risk.”

Bell said South Carolina vaccine leaders looked at other states and their rollout plans. Some states have come up with a self-attestation form that needs to be filled out to prove they are eligible to get the vaccine. South Carolina considered that route, Bell said, but it was ultimately decided to keep the process as simple as possible. 

DHEC leaders thought the eligibility form would be too confusing, and that requiring proof of high-risk conditions is not practical. The latter would mean most people would need to book a doctor’s appointment prior to getting a vaccine appointment. Instead, they believe the vast majority of people will be honest about getting the vaccine and whether they qualify.

DHEC is looking to increase the number of vaccine providers across the state, Bell said. South Carolina currently has 482 active providers administering the vaccine and 685 providers waiting to be activated once doses arrive. 

The state is bringing on 124 additional independent pharmacies this week. The pharmacies provide great coverage around the state in rural communities and can help with urban vaccination, officials said.

When asked about getting help from FEMA, Nick Davidson, DHEC senior deputy for public health, said DHEC is not holding off on getting FEMA clinics but wants to make sure they come with extra vaccines. They don’t want to take away from the state’s current allocation but want extra doses on top of what the state getting. 

Who can get the vaccine

Phase 1B, to take effect on Monday, includes frontline essential workers and:

Anyone age 55 and up.

Anyone 16 to 64 who are high risk – That includes those with cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, down syndrome, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, obesity, and pregnancy, among others.  People with special needs.

Those who are at extreme risk of exposure: Teachers and education support staff members, daycare workers. corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, and public transit workers.

Persons who perform a job that puts them at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent, close (less than 6 feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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