COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As South Carolina makes the move to phase 1b, increasing vaccine access in rural communities continues to be a priority for DHEC.
“We are trying to increase the amount going to providers, we are trying to spread the number of providers,” DHEC Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson said.
In rural areas, many residents struggle to use the internet and often do not have access to a car or bus to get to vaccination sites.
“There’s not a doctor’s office in North,” Town of North Mayor Julius Jones said.
This week DHEC is looking to help bridge the gap in those communities by adding more than 100 independent pharmacies as vaccine distributors.
“I think 124 is the number,” said Davidson. “They provide great coverage around the state to some very rural communities and also additional coverage in our urban areas.”
DHEC says the Janssen vaccine will also be an important tool in rural communities because it only requires a single dose and is easier to store.
“We have a continued plan to roll out that particular product to help individuals who may be lost to follow up and may not be able to get that second dose,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said.
Mayor Jones said he’s excited about the benefits the new vaccine could have on towns like North, where those without transportation would have to pay for only one trip to the vaccination location, instead of two.
“It’s one trip and the person would not have to worry about going back to the clinic or going back to the doctors to get that second injection,” said Mayor Jones.
WIS reached out to DHEC for a full list of new independent pharmacies being added this week but we are still waiting to hear back.