Here’s who qualifies for the vaccine in South Carolina’s Phase 1A

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By Julia Kauffman (WLTX)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Coronavirus vaccinations for people under Phase 1A are well underway, but many are still confused on who exactly that includes.

According to DHEC, people that qualify under the first phase are healthcare workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities and people ages 70 and up. 

'Healthcare workers' includes a large range of professions: From athletic trainers to dentists and funeral home workers.

Alicia Clark is a director at the Thompson Funeral Home in Columbia. She told News19 she received a link to register for the vaccine in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) and easily got an appointment.

"It was all done online through the CDC," Clark explained. "Once we registered as 'Class 1A' through the management in the South Carolina Funeral Director Association, we got a link, it was very seamless, it was very easy to follow."

She got her shot at Lexington Medical Center and said the whole process took about 20 minutes.

"As a licensed funeral director and embalmer, we actually have two sides of being at risk," Clark said. "Of course, there’s the general aspect of being around the public and community and then on the other side of the aspect is the actual preparation of the decedent, where we’re in complete exposure to bodily fluids just as healthcare workers such as doctors or nurses would be." 

DHEC’s website says, “autopsy room staff, coroners, embalmers, and funeral home staff at risk of exposure to bodily fluids,” are all qualified to get the vaccine.

After her first dose, Clark got her vaccination card and instructions on how to sign up for her second appointment. "I’ve already scheduled it for February 1st," she added.

However, Clark knows not everyone has had the same experience as her. "I’ve heard of some issues of not getting appointments and people not knowing how to get the vaccine," she said.

If someone needs help registering for the vaccine, they can call DHEC's care line at 1-855-472-3432.

DHEC says Phase 1B, which expands the vaccine to essential workers, is projected to start later this winter.

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