The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in South Carolina

Posted on 04/16/21 by Andy Markowitz

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • South Carolinians age 16 and over

  • South Carolina has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a type of blood clot that has developed in a small number of people after vaccination. The federal government has called the reaction “extremely rare” but “serious.” If you have an appointment for the J&J vaccine, your provider or state or local health department may honor it with a different vaccine or may reach out to reschedule for a different vaccine. You can also contact your provider or health department for more information. 
McLeod Health Clarendon Hospitals Administers Covid-19 Vaccine

Where can I get a vaccine?   


  • Use the state health department’s vaccine locator or call 866-365-8110 to find locations and contact information for medical facilities, community health centers, mobile clinics and retail pharmacies offering shots near you. You cannot schedule an appointment via the locator or phone line; you’ll need to contact the vaccine provider directly.

  • Pharmacies administering vaccines in South Carolina include select Costco, CVS, Harris Teeter, Ingles, Kroger, Publix, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and Walmart stores. Supplies are limited and stores may be fully booked. Click on the links to see if appointments are available. You’ll need to create an account with your name and email to get a vaccine through Walmart or create a guest account to go through Sam’s Club (club membership is not required).

  • A federally supported mass vaccination site opened April 14 at Columbia Place Mall in Richland County and is scheduled to operate for eight weeks, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. You can make an appointment through the federal Vaccine Administration Management System but the site is also offering drive-through and walk-in options with no appointment necessary.

  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.

  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others.

AARP recommends that you talk to your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities getting vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in South Carolina are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in South Carolina are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines at free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete.

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities.

Which vaccines require a second shot?

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these vaccines, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable.

You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot, but distribution of that vaccine has been paused.

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older. 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. Visit the CDC's COVID-19 vaccines page for more information.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.  

What should I do with my vaccine card?

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

This guide, published Jan. 19, was updated April 16 with new information on South Carolina’s mass vaccination clinic.

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This story is provided by AARP South Carolina. Visit the AARP South Carolina page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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