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Despite slow vaccine rollout, state seeing more than 500 extra doses in vials

Updated: Jan. 7, 2021 at 12:10 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The vaccine rollout in South Carolina has been criticized by some of the state’s highest leaders, but not all the news is dire.

The January 6 COVID-19 Vaccine allocation update from DHEC shows 11 facilities are reporting vaccine utilization rates higher than 100%.

This means they’ve used all their vaccines and found extra along the way.

“[It’s] very encouraging,” said Michelle O’Quinn, the director of pharmacy services for Colleton Medical Center.

Colleton has the third-highest vaccine utilization rate in the state at 127%. The surplus is due to the number of doses in the vial. Traditionally, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine comes with five doses per vial, but it’s regularly being discovered to have six or seven.

“The more we can get vaccinated, the better we’ll be for everybody,” O’Quinn said.

Statewide, the Jan. 6 report shows 588 “extra” doses across the 11 facilities.

Despite the 588 extra doses, DHEC is still reporting a 33% administration rate.

Through Jan. 6, 146,250 vaccines have been received, while only 52,168 first doses and 1,107 second doses have been administered.

O’Quinn credited her clinic’s speed to its small community and small staff, resulting in quicker results.

“We’ve been able to wrap our hands around a smaller number a little more efficiently. We don’t have a lot of people walking off the streets, that kind of thing. We do know who our clientele are and we’re able to get everybody to table when we need to,” she said.

As of Jan. 6, Colleton has administered 285 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

South Carolina Hospital Association Senior Clinical Advisor Christine Carr said the extra doses are being seen nationwide and she expects all the facilities receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to see a bump.

“Clearly it’s not a good but a great thing a time of not a lot of great things. So, it will allow us to sail through all of the Phase 1A, Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3, a little bit quicker. There’s more availability of vaccines, so we can have greater and greater outreach because we have extra vaccine,” she said.

Carr said the nation is not seeing a similar bump with the Moderna vaccine, which is currently being used for long-term care facility residents.

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