All 16 and older in South Carolina now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine


All South Carolinians aged 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, an expansion that went into effect Wednesday.

Phase 1C, the final phased approach that was planned before eligibility opened up to older teens and all adults, was initially projected to begin April 12 and included adults aged 45 and up and remaining essential workers. The state skipped that step to now allow anyone eligible for a vaccine to get one.

Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine available to those aged 16-18. All three - Pfizer, Moderna and J&J/Janssen - are available to those aged 18 and older. There are no vaccines approved so far for teens and children under 16, but an initial study showed promising results in adolescents taking the Pfizer vaccine.

Prisma Health officials, who had administered 196,975 vaccinations as of March 29, said they are ready to implement additional staff or changes in procedure to meet the demand from the rest of the state becoming eligible.

One of the key changes for this expanded phase is that 16- and 17-year-olds must follow a different process for their vaccine registration through the myChart portal, said Dr. Saria Saccocio, ambulatory chief medical officer for Prisma Health and co-chair of the system's COVID-19 vaccine task force. They cannot register directly through myChart because they are considered a minor by the system but must call the Prisma Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-2-PRISMA or their Prisma Health physician to get an activation link for myChart. Once the link is received, they will be able to register themselves for the vaccine in accordance with South Carolina law.

Check for real-time availability of appointments at Prisma Health at Same-day appointments are available at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital's Sumter County Civic Center vaccine site. Community members can also use the state's interactive map at to find additional vaccination sites.

As more South Carolinians are becoming eligible for and receiving the vaccine, state lawmakers are considering a proposal to prevent employers from mandating their workers get one. A resolution passed by the Senate Medical Affairs committee Wednesday states employers can't punish or fire employees who do not get a shot, The Associated Press reported. However, they can still mandate workers quarantine if exposed to COVID-19 and offer incentives for people who do get the vaccine.

Some exceptions are included for hospitals and those who work with people who are vulnerable to the virus.

The proposal now heads to the full Senate for a vote. Senators already passed another bill to prevent lawsuits against businesses and others by people who contract COVID-19 as long as federal and state health guidelines were being followed, AP reported. About 1.3 million South Carolinians have received at least one shot, and 16.7% of the state has been fully vaccinated.