COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Changes in the way vaccines are reaching hospitals and other providers across South Carolina are causing vaccine shortages at some vaccination sites this week.
Officials with Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina said they only got a small portion of their weekly vaccine allotment on Monday, and the other part is coming on Wednesday and Thursday. Prisma Health officials that Monday’s shipment was a small allotment of first doses and a larger allotment of second doses will be in the deliveries later this week.
“We’ve seen delayed appointments because we did not receive our vaccine,” Prisma Health’s Vaccine Task Force Co-Chair Dr. Saria Saccocio said. “We have had to cancel appointments because we did not receive our expected shipment.”
However, it’s led to confusion and frustration for many South Carolinians, with thousands of appointments being rescheduled or canceled altogether.
MUSC officials said they had to reschedule 8,000 appointments, pushing them back to later this week. MUSC’s chief quality officer said they received about 3,000 doses Monday, which was only enough to cover the Monday schedule.
“This curveball this week of the twice-weekly shipments was a change and it did cause significant disruptions in us having to reschedule patients, which we are desperately trying to avoid,” MUSC’s Chief Quality Officer Dr. Danielle Scheurer said.
Prisma Health officials said that they won’t be holding any walk-in vaccinations for the rest of the week for first doses, and will be offering limited walk-ins for those needing a second dose on the basis of vaccine supply. They are encouraging that everyone trying to get a vaccine to make an appointment.
Prisma officials said their hospital system experienced delays in getting their allotment Monday and were expecting an additional shipment Tuesday morning. However, the shipment didn’t arrive until 1 p.m., which caused some of their vaccine sites to be closed for the morning and all appointments were canceled.
Deirdre Robinson said her mother had an appointment to get her second dose at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning at Prisma Health’s Gamecock Park vaccination site but got a call last night from Prisma Health that her appointment had been canceled.
“They were like, ‘There’s nothing we can do,’” Robinson said. “(They said) ‘We can reschedule her on the 22nd of February,’ which not acceptable. It’s ridiculous.”
She still showed up to Gamecock Park Tuesday once the site opened at noon and after hours of waiting, her mother was able to get the shot. However, she said she’s concerned by the way Prisma handled the cancellation.
“I’m concerned that I’m not the only one,” Robinson said. “Based on what the lady at the call center told me, their calls went from 30 to over 200 calls in the queue. I’m being told that it was a fluke, that it should not have gone out, but nobody has backtracked that and told people who did have an appointment that you can come to your appointment. It’s ridiculous.”
Prisma and MUSC officials said that the second dose allotment is supposed to be Wednesday’s shipment, but they aren’t sure how many vaccines will be in the allotment.
For anyone who had their appointment canceled or if your vaccination site wasn’t open due to supply, Prisma officials are asking you to bring your appointment confirmation and they are going to do their best to honor your appointment.
“Bring your appointment validation with you whether it’s a code on your phone or if it’s printed out,” Dr. Saccocio said. “If you had an appointment that was missed due to vaccine supply delay and we have vaccine supply available, then we will do our best to vaccinate you.”
DHEC officials stressed that they are urging providers from holding mass vaccination clinics to avoid facilities exceeding the number of available doses and having to turn people away.