Lawmakers have struggled to find a place for teachers in the state’s vaccine plan without pitting them against seniors, who are much more likely to die from the virus, and the many other groups of essential workers who have made their case to legislators this month. It’s a push that is losing momentum in the state as South Carolina moves closer to make more people eligible for the vaccine.
State health officials say vaccinating seniors before teachers will save lives and keep hundreds of people out of the hospital. Gov. Henry McMaster has said he would oppose plans that would push seniors further back in line.
“It’s still the Hunger Games,” Democratic House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said.
Currently, the state is in Phase 1A, with an estimated eligible population of more than 1.2 million people, including health care workers and residents 65 and older. The health department estimates more than half a million people will be eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B of the state’s plan, which currently includes teachers and other frontline essential workers.
State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman asked lawmakers to consider putting teachers at the top of the list for Phase 1B, a request her agency has previously made with the state’s vaccine advisory committee.
“Everybody’s going to be chomping at the bits together,” Spearman said.