COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Over 300,000 South Carolinians have an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, with thousands more still trying to get in line through the VAMS appointment system.
It’s a system that many in South Carolina have complained feels difficult to navigate.
DHEC’s Interim Director Dr. Brannon Traxler held a media briefing on Monday regarding the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Traxler said that the hope is to have a vaccine-only call center, as well as a new vaccine appointment scheduler, rolled out by the end of this week. She added DHEC shares the frustration of many South Carolina residents who have had issues and difficulty making an appointment online.
“We, like many states, many of our vaccine providers, and the public have been frustrated with the federal VAMS system,” Dr. Traxler said.
Traxler said the new vaccine appointment scheduling system will simplify the process.
“Our IT experts have been working with the vaccine providers and others to build out the system,” Traxler said. “It will be much more user friendly than the VAMS that we have been using.”
When it comes to locations to get the vaccine, Traxler said that about 15 Walmart locations in South Carolina were activated on Monday, but she said DHEC won’t be activating any additional sites this week due to the limited supply of the vaccine.
“The challenge is not having enough available providers,” Traxler said. “Right now, we have more than enough enrolled providers. The challenge right now is having enough available vaccine.”
Traxler said, at this time, South Carolina is only getting an allotment of around 63,000 vaccines each week of first doses.
Prisma Health officials announced this weekend that they will no longer be allowing walk-ups at their various drive-up vaccination sites across the state because of limited supply as well. Prisma officials said they’ve requested 60,000 vaccines from DHEC this week.
“Beginning two weeks ago, we saw a significant increase in the amounts of vaccines that were being requested, whereas the number of doses coming into the state was still the same. So, the last couple of weeks, we’ve only been able to fulfill a proportion of every facilities’ orders,” Traxler said.
When it comes to what the supply is going to be over the coming weeks, Traxler said to expect the same amount that the state has been seeing over the last few weeks with about 63,000 doses a week. She also said DHEC hasn’t been given a timeline on when they might get larger allotments.
Traxler said the state also received about 63,000 second doses of the vaccine as well.
She said that the DHEC advisory board is going to be meeting Tuesday to discuss different models for allocation.
Traxler noted the board is also going to be discussing which populations will be included in Phase 1B in the near future.
If you have a question about vaccines that is not answered in the news conference, click or tap here to learn more and/or ask your question to the WIS COVID-19 Vaccine Team.