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S.C. teachers ready to get vaccine in Phase 1B but want to hold off on reopening

Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:46 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) -Good news is coming to 2.7 million South Carolinians.

If you are 55 and older, 16 to 64 with a pre-existing condition or a frontline essential worker—you can get ready to roll up your sleeve.

WBTV found out what you should know from some local clinics.

The state is activating more vaccine providers within the next two weeks.

That will help get more shots in people’s arms.

WBTV checked in with three already activated—MUSC Lancaster and Chester clinics and Rock Hill vaccine clinic.

A spokesperson for MUSC Lancaster and Chester said the clinics are waiting for instructions from Charleston, calling it a work in progress.

At this time, the spokesperson is not sure if they will start Phase 1B on Monday.

Rock Hill Clinic is already working with York County school districts and surrounding towns to vaccinate teachers and other frontline essential workers.

If anyone wants the vaccine, a spokesperson says to reach out to the school or job that person works at.

Pete Stone, a teacher in South Carolina, said he is excited districts are working with clinics to get teachers in faster.

”I really like that part of the plan. It makes it accessible and readily available,” Stone said.

Teachers can now get vaccine appointments starting Monday.

It comes with the expectation school districts will go back to five days of in-person learning.

”I was so happy,” said Stone.

It is the announcement many teachers in South Carolina have waited to hear.

”We are ready to enter what is referred to as Phase 1B,” Stone said.

Teachers and school support staff, including bus drivers and cafeteria workers, have been ready to roll up their sleeves for months.

”Good news is always a relief. I’m always grateful for positive news. It’s a step in the right direction,” Stone said.

It is one step forward and two steps back for Stone as Gov. Henry McMaster and state Superintendent Molly Spearman kept repeating one phrase.

”Implement a five-day-a-week plan immediately,” said Spearman.

Immediately is too soon for Stone since everyone cannot get a shot immediately.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it takes a few weeks before a vaccinated person builds immunity.

Teachers say asking for immediate reopening is not giving them any time at all.

”There’s still a concern about an asymptomatic spread in schools that will translate to symptomatic spread in those who don’t have the vaccine yet, it hasn’t taken effect, or for some reason, they just can’t get it yet,” said Stone.

The Centers for Disease Control research shows schools can safely open if proper protocols are followed, but Stone says state leaders keep missing the big “ifs”.

”We can have teachers, students, and others return to the buildings safely if key mitigation factors are followed such as social distancing and other things that aren’t quite always possible in our overcrowded schools,” Stone said.

Spearman says she worked with school districts to get teachers vaccinated at the schools. She says every district has some sort of plan in place to get teachers vaccinated quickly.

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