S.C. health officials say vaccine providers may have to dip into wrong set of doses to fill appointments

Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 9:04 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Providers are seeing varying levels of difficulty with receiving vaccine shipments - be it from weather delays, or an underwhelming supply of doses meant for second appointments.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday they realized there are many who need both first and second doses at this time, and some providers aren’t able to have as many second doses for their patients as they would like.

The agency said these providers may need to adjust accordingly.

“We will need facilities at least in the near term, in the next couple weeks, to be using some of their first doses to cover some of those second dose clinics, and they may also have to postpone some of their second dose clinics,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC’s Senior Deputy of Public Health.

Davidson said this may be due to providers already dipping into their first dose allocations for second dose appointments and vice versa. He said that’s why it’s important facilities keep those inventories separate.

South Carolina providers have continued to also see delays in vaccine shipments because of bad weather in shipping hubs the state depends on for vaccine.

DHEC said this may mean some providers needed to reschedule appointments because of delays, which have gone on last week and into this week.

Davidson said Friday afternoon though that almost all of the first dose and second dose shipments affected have been delivered.

On the patient front, state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell explained it’s important to get the second dose and to do so when you can.

“We don’t want people to give up and just rely on that one dose. Because from what we know now from both of those vaccines - they won’t achieve that maximum immunity, until they get that second dose,” she said.

In an ideal world, people would get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after their first, or four weeks after their first when receiving the Moderna vaccine.

But this window isn’t a requirement, Bell said.

“If they have to get it going out many more weeks, even as long as six weeks and in fact, beyond that - that’s okay,” she said. “It will just take a little bit longer for them to get that maximum immunity.”

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