Vaccine shortage in SC threatens vaccination push by hospitals

Updated: Jan. 16, 2021 at 2:50 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Prisma Health is rolling out drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Columbia and in the Upstate next week.

RELATED STORY: Prisma Health to open drive-thru vaccine center in Columbia on Monday

They may not have the doses to get it done.

Friday evening, the South Carolina Hospital Association published a press release that said DHEC was only able to allocate a quarter of the COVID-19 vaccine doses hospitals requested.

DHEC sent WIS a statement reading:

South Carolina and South Carolina hospitals are continuing to receive the same number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine as in previous weeks. Some hospitals and vaccine providers who place orders for their weekly vaccine allocations have requested four to five times more doses than they had in previous weeks, to accommodate a high demand for the vaccine. However, the state can’t fulfill the providers’ request for increased vaccine allocations because there is not enough vaccine available from the federal government.

South Carolina will receive the same amount of Pfizer vaccine, roughly 31,500 doses, next week. As top DHEC officials noted in a Senate hearing committee earlier this week, the agency is not anticipating any increase in the state’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government for the foreseeable future.

In a call with journalists on Friday afternoon, Dr. Saria Saccocio, Prisma Health COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force co-chair, said the drive-through clinics could be put in jeopardy by a lack of doses.

“We certainly don’t want to be sitting around idle, waiting on vaccines for our two large-scale vaccination centers. We’re at real risk of that happening in the next several days,” she said.

She said when fully operational, the clinics could result in 10,000 vaccinations every day by Jan. 22.

CDC data currently shows South Carolina is ranked last among the 50 states for COVID-19 vaccine distribution from the federal government per capita.

As of Jan. 16, there are 6,808 doses per 100,000 people.

In a separate call with journalists, DHEC Interim Director of Public Health Brannon Traxler said DHEC does not expect its weekly allocation of doses to rise soon.

“We are in communication with the CDC and operation warp speed to verify that information, that the data, those numbers are correct, and if so, to understand what is happening and what is going on,” she said.

As of Jan. 16, the state had received 313,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with 146,219 administered.

Traxler said 100 percent of the vaccines have either been administered or are scheduled to be administered.

Saccocio urged members of the public to reach out to federal lawmakers about South Carolina’s distribution.

The Horry and Georgetown County legislative delegations sent a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham asking for help on the issue.

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