ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Governor Henry McMaster have opened up COVID-19 vaccine appointments for 2.7 million residents in Phase 1b starting March 8th.
"Getting this vaccine shot now makes us feel a little bit safer now that our residents or anyone we come in contact with can get the shot," explained Samaritan House executive director Henry Miller.
Miller is one of the close to 3 million residents now eligible to get the COVID vaccine. The governor decided to open up Phase 1b after 1 million shots had been given.
But, before you start booking appointments, DHEC's director urges folks to honor the systems put in place.
"We are going to be using two things," said Dr. Edward Simmer. "If you're 55 and older, you can show your ID to prove your age. For others, we are going to trust South Carolinians to tell the truth and say I have this medical condition or I'm in an employment situation that meets the criteria."
Phase 1B will be open to:
- Anyone aged 55 and older.
- People 16 through 64 with one or more high-risk medical conditions.
- Individuals at increased risk in settings where people are living and working in close contact.
- Front-line workers.
How do you know if your line of work meets the criteria for Phase 1B? For example, grocery store workers, postal service employees, manufactures, and homeless shelter residents and employees can now get the vaccine.
"It's a blessing for the workers and clients at The Samaritan House to get the vaccine," Miller said. "As I sit here and think about it, it's wonderful; it's like Christmas all over again."
The Samaritan House in Orangeburg can house 40 residents for two months. The executive director says due to the pandemic, that number has been cut in half. He says Phase 1B will allow the homeless shelter industry to go back to normal operations.
"We have not had a case here at the shelter since we've been open," said Miller. "However, you never know. You look around these days, and it seems like everyone is getting the virus."