COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Vaccine eligibility in South Carolina will open to everyone aged 16 and older starting Wednesday, March 31, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Friday.
They can begin scheduling appointments that same day -- March 31, officials said.
Previously, people in that group were not expected to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine appointments until May, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website.
Friday’s announcement skips the rest of the phased approach planned by DHEC.
That plan included a phase 1c, for those 45 and up and more essential workers, before opening vaccine appointments to everyone in phase 2.
However, dozens of other states have recently opened their vaccine eligibility to everyone, including nearby Georgia. North Carolina plans to open vaccine appointments for all on March 31, as well.
Health officials in South Carolina have also reported a recent decrease in vaccine demand among those currently eligible to make appointments.
“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our state’s health care professionals, we are now able to make the vaccine available to anyone who wants it, and to do so ahead of schedule,” McMaster said.
While the Pfizer vaccine can be administered to people who are 16 and 17, it is the only vaccine currently given emergency use authorization by the FDA for that age group. The other two vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were authorized for those 18 and older.
Learn how to make an appointment in South Carolina by clicking or tapping here. People may also call DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for help.
As of Friday, DHEC reported vaccine providers have administered more than 1.8 million doses of vaccine to South Carolina residents. Of those, 617,787 residents have been fully vaccinated -- about 15% of the state’s population.