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South Carolina lowers vaccine age to 65, appointments to begin Monday

Any state resident 65 or older will be able to get the vaccine, regardless of health status or preconditions.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is lowering the age for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine to 65, expanding those who can access the treatment and going along with what some other states have already started doing.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday that starting Monday, February 8 any state resident 65 or older can get the vaccine, regardless of health status or preconditions.

“We have a moral and ethical duty to first vaccinate the South Carolinians who are at the highest risk of dying from the virus,” said Gov. Henry McMaster in a statement. “At this time, placing a younger person between a senior citizen and what could be their lifesaving shot would be unconscionable and irresponsible. Today’s action will save lives and allow our teachers to be vaccinated next.”

RELATED: How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in South Carolina if you're over 70

DHEC’s online tool at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator shows locations currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccine and provides contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. DHEC also has a information line people can call at 1-866-365-8110 The service is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week 

The CDC has been recommending that people over 65 get the vaccine, and some other states have been allowing for that for several weeks.

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“As we evaluate supply versus demand and as the rate of vaccines coming into the state increases, we believe it is appropriate to begin scheduling appointments for additional South Carolinians,” said DHEC Acting Director Marshall Taylor. “While every South Carolinian will have a chance to get the vaccine, it's important to understand the availability of vaccine is limited in South Carolina, like in all states. To best protect the safety and health of all South Carolinians we must make sure those at highest risk of severe illness and death get vaccinated first."

SCDHEC says 81.7 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state have been people age 65 or older. The average age of a COVID-related death is 75.

What to know:

  • Beginning Monday, February 8, any South Carolina resident who is at least 65 years old can schedule their appointment to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk.
  • Residents will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at their appointment that confirms their age and, therefore, their eligibility to receive vaccine.
  • South Carolinians eligible to receive vaccine can schedule an appointment at a location accepting COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The scdhec.gov/vaxlocator can be used to find those locations and get contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. People can also call DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for help finding vaccine providers and their contact information to schedule an appointment.
  • COVID-19 is still at high levels in South Carolina. Wear a face mask, stay six feet away from others, avoid crowds, and get tested often.

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