PROTECT. PLAN. ACT.
South Carolina is currently in Phase 1a of our vaccination plan. Most mission-critical workers in the current phase fall in health care occupations. When Phase 1b begins, frontline essential workers will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Everyone will have a chance to get the vaccine. While you wait, stress the importance of taking small steps that make a big difference: wearing your mask, getting tested and staying home when you’re sick, avoiding large gatherings, and practicing physical distancing.
- To assist DHEC with planning/distributing vaccine to various regions of the state; and
- To get businesses/government entities to start assessing their workforce to determine which vaccine phase they are in, and start planning for how employees will be vaccinated.
Please note that you will not be held to the number of employees provided in the survey, and you are not guaranteed to receive all the number of doses requested at the same time.
The need for South Carolina to prioritize vaccine doses given to those who are at higher risk of exposure is driven by the lack of sufficient vaccine doses. While it is expected that at some future date the vaccine supply will meet the demand, until that time prioritization based on the risk of exposure will continue to be needed.
Tools for Assessing Your Workforce
Check the vaccine phases page often. Who is eligible for a vaccine is updated regularly.
The employees who fall into Phase 1b are frontline essential workers (keep in mind the current Phase 1a includes individuals 65 & older). Note that the definition of frontline essential workers is NOT the same as the US Department of Homeland Security's definition. Frontline essential workers are defined as: “…only those considered at highest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2 who experience unavoidable, substantially increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.”
One factor in determining whether or not someone falls into Phase 1b or 1c is the number of people who can do that job. If the number is low, those workers may be in 1b. If the number is high, those workers would move to 1c.
The remaining essential workers (transportation and logistics, food service, public safety, non-frontline healthcare workers, and more) are included in Phase 1c.
Assessing the Risk of Exposure
This concept is not new to regulated businesses as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require employers to recognize, evaluate and control for exposures in the workplace. The unique thing about COVID-19 is that it is also spread outside of the workplace.
We encourage the continued following of the basic prevention guidelines (face masks, physical distancing, hand washing and testing). We also continue to encourage creative engineering (for example, increasing exhaust ventilation or plexiglass dividers) or administrative (for example, alternating work schedules or telecommuting) controls that help to minimize the spread of the virus.
When successfully implemented, the use of engineering controls or administrative controls may move a group of workers from Phase 1b to Phase 1c.
For purposes of this survey, Phase 1b should include employees who have a higher risk of exposure at work than the general population has. Factors to consider include: the need to work in indoor spaces in close proximity to others (for example, a meat or poultry processing line); the ability to use engineering or administrative controls to lessen the risk of exposure (for example plexiglass dividers or alternating work schedules), a lack of effective ventilation, and direct / prolonged interaction with members of the public (for example, grocery store clerks).
As we continue to work with providers and other partners to expand our vaccine pipeline, we recognize that this is something that we can’t do alone. We need the help of our business community and government leaders to:
- Educate your workforce on the safety (confidence building) and need for the vaccine. As part of this effort:
- consider offering incentives; and
- set percent goals for your team, similar to flu shots.
- Read the Phase 1b guidance and recommendations for determining frontline essential workers, and complete DHEC's survey on the number of essential workers in your workplace.
- Also, remember, vaccine supplies are currently limited. The supply of vaccine doses may not meet your immediate needs, give thought as to how you will prioritize your frontline workers, including:
- older workers,
- those with underlying medical conditions, and
- those at greatest risk of exposure.
Providing the Vaccine
There are three ways you can offer the vaccine to your employees once they are eligible (meaning the state has progressed into the phase they are determined to belong):
- Become a vaccine provider. If you have onsite medical staff and can meet the storage and other requirements, you can apply to be a vaccine provider for your employees;
- Work with a local, approved, vaccine provider. Go to this map of approved providers in your area; or
- Encourage employees to schedule their own vaccine appointment at a local provider and consider providing time off or other incentives. If you choose this option, please work with your local provider and follow their instructions with regard to tracking your employee vaccinations.
If you have questions or need additional assistance after reading through this information, please email: email@example.com. Thank you for your active engagement.