COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Roughly 2.7 million people in South Carolina will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday as part of Phase 1B. However, one big question that remains is will there be enough supply to meet the expected demand?
Some of South Carolina’s biggest hospital providers said they don’t know what their shipments will look like next week or if there will be an increase in the supply. However, CVS’s Vaccine lead for the Southeast CJ Hester said the company is expecting a substantial boost to their supply due to a one-time shipment of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“We’re excited about it,” Hester said. “We cannot wait to get our hands on more vaccines and we are willing, ready, and able. As soon as that vaccine is in our hands, we are ready to get it into the arms of our community in South Carolina.”
Hester said the shipment is set to reach their locations by Saturday, and it will allow them to open up 59 additional vaccination locations across the state.
“It was framed up as a one-time allocation, and we wanted to put it in as many stores as we could to reach as many people as we could,” Hester said.
There are currently 33 CVS locations across South Carolina administering the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines. Hester said CVS currently administers about 30,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week, but that the one-week allocation of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will allow CVS to vaccinate about 6,000 more South Carolinians at 59 new locations next week.
He said at this point they are unsure about whether they will receive additional weekly shipments of the J&J one dose vaccine moving forward, but are hopeful that it will continue.
“It’s really just pending that vaccine allocation,” Hester said. “We are willing and able to vaccinate even more patients,” Hester said.
Other hospitals said they still haven’t gotten word on if they will be receiving additional shipments, but supply remains a big issue.
Prisma Health said they are currently only receiving the Pfizer vaccine from DHEC, and they received a little over 18,000 doses this week. They said they have very limited first-dose appointments due to the limited supply. Prisma Health officials added that if they receive DHEC approval, they look forward to being able to vaccinate with the Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
DHEC officials say the demand from the providers still far exceeds the supply.
“(Providers) allocations have begun to go up some as the vaccines have gone up, but at this time vaccine supply is the largest challenge we have in the state,” DHEC Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson said.
MUSC says they received a little over 8,000 doses this week, but they currently aren’t scheduling any new first dose appointments due to extremely low supply.
MUSC Spokesperson Montez Seabrook said in a statement that “As soon as we receive vaccines to allow re-opening first dose visits, we will reach out to those that were canceled-displaced first. Some may have been vaccinated elsewhere, but there were 50K displaced in the past 3 weeks.”
Lexington Medical Center said they are currently administering about 1,000 vaccinations a day, but won’t know what their shipment for next week will look like until Friday.
When it comes to the 59 additional locations that CVS is opening, a CVS spokesperson said they are not releasing that information at this time. The spokesperson when on to say, “We want to prevent stores from being overwhelmed by those who may seek a vaccination without making an appointment. Vaccinations are by-appointment-only and we want to encourage eligible patients to use our online scheduling tool to find a location that is convenient for them.
You can find available appointments at CVS locations in South Carolina and sign up for an appointment here.