COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is getting its first allocation of second doses of vaccine, top health officials said Monday.
As of Monday afternoon, DHEC said 43,227 people in the state have received their first dose of the vaccine. Both vaccines given emergency use authorization by the FDA so far (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) require two doses.
To see which facilities across the state have Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in hand, and how many vaccines each facility has administered, click or tap here.
The state now has 16,575 second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director, said. Those will be directly allocated to people who have received the first dose.
But South Carolina still has thousands of first-round doses sitting on ice.
“Certainly our goal is to have as close to 100% utilization as possible, as quickly as possible,” Traxler noted.
So what’s the hold-up?
Traxler said several times during a virtual news conference Monday that nurses and doctors are fighting two battles: a record number of patients and the race to vaccinate staff. She noted staffing shortages could be one reason only 33% of the nearly 130,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines received have been administered.
“The biggest way we can recruit vaccine staff is by doing our part to stop transmission, so we can take that burden off of the health care facilities and providers,” said Traxler.
DHEC has asked hospitals to administer vaccines to people outside of their systems who fall into phase 1a, but some home health care workers in that group say they haven’t been contacted to get the shot.
“We are working on enrolling in the next couple of days a website where health care workers who have not been contacted by an employer or by a hospital can sign up to receive notification when there is a vaccine provider site in their vicinity and community,” Traxler explained.
DHEC does not have an estimate as to how much longer those in phase 1a will have to wait.
They also don’t have an update as to how many of the state’s nearly 85,000 Moderna vaccine doses have been administered.
The Moderna vaccines received by South Carolina have been allocated to a federal program to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Information on which facilities have received Moderna vaccines should be available this week, DHEC said.
While some are frustrated at the pace of the rollout, DHEC says they’re still on track to start vaccinating the general public by the summer.
DHEC also noted they expect to move to phase 1b in February.
They say that transition will take place when the state hits one of two milestones -- either 70% of people in phase 1a have been vaccinated or offered the vaccine, or when supply begins to outpace demand.
WIS knows there are still many more questions about the vaccine rollout. DHEC only answered a select number of pre-submitted questions during their virtual news conference, but the agency says it will do its best to answer more in the coming days.