DHEC leadership presents plan to smooth vaccine appointment process to lawmakers

DHEC leadership presents plan to smooth vaccine appointment process to lawmakers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The frustration many South Carolinians face while trying to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment is well known, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said in a meeting with lawmakers on Thursday.

Now, DHEC says it’s working on a solution.

South Carolina currently uses VAMS to schedule appointments. It’s a federal program that acting DHEC Director Marshall Taylor said is flawed and slowing the process.

“I’m not an expert in VAMS. I don’t know that anybody is an expert in VAMS,” he said.

Taylor said the program leaves those who are not tech-savvy or lack access to the internet without options.

“You basically have to have an email to get an appointment, which has been very difficult for our citizens and we recognize that,” he said.

He went on to state: “Another thing that the VAMS system does apparently is it spontaneously cancels appointments.”

DHEC officials are working on a new program to smooth the process for those attempting to get an appointment. He presented plans to the S.C. House Ad Hoc Committee to study DHEC’s Receipt and Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine to create the program.

Taylor said the new program will not require an email from people to sign up, and it will be accompanied by a new call center manned by several hundred people.

The new call center will be able to answer questions and help set up a person’s two vaccine appointments at the same facility, which is a point of emphasis for DHEC.

“Recognizing that that’s a problem, what we’ve encouraged people to do, and providers as well know this, make your second appointment no later than when you get that first shot,” he said.

It’ll additionally alleviate demand on DHEC’s existing Care Line.

“We are getting thousands and thousands and thousands of calls a day into the care line. We recognize the care line is insufficient to meet the requirement,” he said.

Taylor gave no hard timeline for the new program or the call center but did say they should be ready in the coming weeks.

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