S.C. health agency gets second-round vaccine doses, teachers anxiously await Phase 1B

SC teachers eagerly await turn for vaccine

YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina will get another shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines as early as this Monday.

That is the second dose for healthcare workers already vaccinated. The director says more than 16,500 Pfizer vials are on the way to South Carolina.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, Interim Health Director, says 33 percent of the Pfizer supply has been used. The new shots coming will go to those within the 21-day mark.

As of Sunday, 42,000 healthcare workers have been given the vaccine. That number does not include the appointments people are making. The director did admit giving the vaccines out has not been the smoothest, but has hope it will get better.

”I really anticipate in the next few weeks the utilization rate to really increase as we get into that familiar cadence,” says Traxler.

Traxler did not say how the health agency would split the 16,500 vials coming to the state. When the first shipment came in December, hospitals needed to order a minimum of 975 doses.

Next in line, for Phase 1B, will be teachers. Teachers are eagerly waiting to get the vaccine, but it might not come until February despite more schools bringing face-to-face learning back.

”Every teacher I’ve spoken to is like ‘we’re ready tomorrow,’” says Katherine Harris, who is waiting for Phase 1B. “When you call us, we will come.”

Teachers across South Carolina are anxiously waiting for the state’s health agency to make that big announcement - S.C. is moving to phase 1B.

”We’re very much concerned about the pacing of the vaccine,” says Harris.

Harris’ concerns increased since more S.C. schools have shifted to more students and days in the classroom.

”In a state that’s pushing face-to-face learning as hard as they’re pushing, it it doesn’t make sense to hold off on a vaccine,” says Harris.

The state health agency’s Traxler says 70 percent of Phase 1A needs to be vaccinated before moving on. As mentioned, the state is at about 33 percent.

”Going into Phase 1B early just means there will be even more people trying to get those limited doses,” says Traxler.

The plan is not set though. Traxler says a move to Phase 1B could happen sooner when the agency hits two key marks: appointments and the 70 percent. It also depends on the Centers for Disease Control’s advice.

”Basically, if we start seeing appointments dropping off significantly at the provider sites as well as that 70 percent we’d then proceed into 1B,” she says.

A February timeline might be later than Harris and other teachers want, but Harris recognizes it is a step towards a safer school year.

”Safety can look a lot of ways. Safety can look like PPE, safety can look like virtual and safety can look like a vaccinated staff,” says Harris.

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