DHEC addresses issue of health care providers violating phase guidelines

Vaccine demand continues to outweigh supply.
Vaccine demand continues to outweigh supply.(Source: WMBF News)
Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 6:13 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Some health care providers across the state continue to vaccinate people who aren’t in Phase 1a of vaccine distribution.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is emphasizing how important it is to honor the phase recommendations they put in place.

DHEC officials say they’ve received complaints about health care providers giving the coronavirus vaccine to people under age 70.

Phase 1a doesn’t include people under age 70. That will change starting Monday when appointments open for people age 65-69.

“We are urging those who are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine to do your part in the fight against COVID-19 by following the guidance of public health officials and not jumping ahead of others to receive your COVID-19 vaccine early,” said Nick Davidson, Senior Deputy of Public Health for DHEC.

Davidson also says DHEC will actively reach out and talk to the organizations involved and take appropriate actions.

During Friday’s media briefing, DHEC officials also discussed a proposal state senators have made to push teachers to the front of the vaccine distribution line.

DHEC officials say a move like this would have a significant impact on the distribution process.

Davidson says school districts need to work on plans with local providers to get teachers vaccinated once they’re able to.

He added he understands the desire for teachers to get vaccinated because he has teachers in his close family.

However, with vaccine supply so low, Davidson explained there’s not currently enough vaccine that would be available to vaccinate the roughly 100,000 teachers in the state, meaning others would be left waiting even longer.

“As the legislation is currently written, we would need to vaccinate all those individuals within 30 days of the passing of the legislation,” he said. “That could certainly mean that some individuals that we might not be able to distribute vaccine to some locations that we now distribute to, and we would have to reallocate that vaccine to the teachers.”

Gov. Henry McMaster also says he is opposed to the idea of moving teachers to the front of the line because he wants the focus to remain on vaccinating people currently in Phase 1a before moving on.

DHEC officials also gave an update on how the demand for the vaccine is far exceeding the supply, saying that 100% of the vaccine doses that have made it to South Carolina are either in arms or scheduled to be in arms.

State health officials did have some good news in terms of vaccine allocation and explained that they are getting almost 14,000 more first doses of the Moderna vaccine per week than they’ve been getting starting soon.

However, that still won’t even come close to meeting the demand.

Once Phase 1a is opened up to people age 65 to 69 on Monday, that’ll add more than 300,000 people to Phase 1a, according to DHEC. Officials said it means just in Phase 1a alone, there are almost 1,000,000 people.

“The flow of vaccine from the manufacturers and the federal government, clearly is not currently sufficient to meet the tremendous demand,” said Davidson.

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