COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster and Prisma Health officials celebrated the medical group’s 100,000th COVID-19 vaccination on Monday morning.
The moment happened at the Gamecock Park drive-thru mass vaccination site in Columbia.
President & CEO of Prisma Health Mark O’Halla, Co-Chair of Prisma Health Vaccination Midlands Task Force Dr. Rick Scott, and Co-Chair of Prisma Health Vaccination Upstate Task Force Dr. Saria Saccocio joined the governor.
“This is a milestone that’s worth celebrating,” O’Halla said.
McMaster spoke during Monday’s event, saying that Prisma Health has been a leader when it comes to rolling out large-scale vaccinations.
“We got off to a slow start,” McMaster said. “After meeting with the hospitals and discovering where the bottlenecks were, I can say that many of the hospitals are performing at maximum capacity.”
Prisma Health officials said they’ve administered the most Pfizer vaccinations of any provider in the state, with 30% of the 341,000 doses received. O’Halla said their rapid vaccine expansion was in response to McMaster calling on hospitals to speed things up when it came to vaccinations.
“Pharmacies got a later start because the Moderna vaccine was a little later getting here than the Pfizer vaccine,” McMaster said. “But it’s now time for the pharmacies to do the same thing that the hospitals have done, which is to kick it into gear and get every one of those vaccines into arms of a South Carolinian before their next shipment comes in. We want them to run out, give those shots as quickly as they can, and use the maximum capacity.”
Prisma officials said they now have two high-volume vaccination sites, 11 hospital sites, and they are working to expand in rural areas by opening up a Laurens County vaccination site today and five mobile vans in the near future.
“When fully operational this spring, our plan calls for a total of five mobile vans deployed throughout our South Carolina regions,” Dr. Saccocio said. “Again to serve those more rural areas, vulnerable patient populations for equitable vaccination opportunity.”
McMaster said he wants to see more providers follow in Prisma’s footsteps.
“We’ve got to get our pharmacies moving and our rural health centers because that’s where a lot of people are,” McMaster said.
McMaster stressed both during the event and during an interview after the importance of focusing on rural areas in the coming weeks, as well as vaccinating the older population as quickly as possible.
“It is the older people we know that are most at risk,” McMaster said. “The average age of death from the virus in South Carolina is 75 years old. So, it is the older people that are most at risk and it is those that we must see have the early opportunity to get a vaccination.”
As to the timeline of getting the vaccine as more flows into the state and who might be added to Group 1A, McMaster said he would like to add those over 65 to Group 1A next before moving onto Group 1B, which includes teachers and other essential workers.
South Carolina is expected to receive an additional weekly allotment of 10,000 Moderna vaccines, bringing the total to 72,000 this week.
Prisma Health officials also announced that today the provider rolled out a MyChart patient portal for booking the COIVD-19 vaccine appointments. Those trying to get an appointment can now make one directly through Prisma rather than the CDC VAMS platform.
The state remains in phase 1A of its vaccine rollout. For more on what that means and a timeline on when others could get the vaccine, click or tap here.