DHEC begins distributing doses by regional population

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is changing the way it distributes COVID-19 vaccine doses to its clinics.

The change is mandated by state law, specifically House Bill 3707. Governor Henry McMaster signed it on Feb. 19.

It requires that 14 days after the bill becomes effective (Feb. 19) that future doses “must be allocated to the four DHEC public health regions in a per-capita manner with considerations taken into account for factors including, but not limited to, poverty level, infection rates, age, and high-risk populations.”

March 5 marks the 14th day since the signing of the joint resolution, meaning the four regions (Midlands, Pee Dee, Low Country, and Upstate) will begin receiving doses accordingly.

In a call with journalists on March 5, DHEC Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson said all future orders of COVID-19 vaccine doses will be distributed based off the model. “The region will get what the region deserves on a per capita basis,” he said.

He said as part of the new system, each clinic will receive a baseline number of doses weekly.

DHEC’s public health regions split WIS’s viewing area between the Midlands, the Pee Dee, and the Low Country.

It’s currently unclear how each county will fare with the changes, but currently, DHEC’s vaccine dashboard shows Saluda, Calhoun, and Sumter among the counties with the lowest number of doses allocated per capita.

Davidson said the transition also affords DHEC a level of flexibility.

“If we see areas of great need or areas where the need is less, it allows us to be able to use the vaccine where it’s needed,” he said.

In a Thursday interview with WIS, the Office Manager for the Emmanuel Family Clinic in Saluda said access to doses was less of a concern than Saluda’s community reluctance. “I think a lot of people are still scared to get it. They’re not sure about the side-effects of the shot, or the availability even still,” she said. Davidson said demand for the vaccine will play a role in the distribution, but he doubts demand will be an issue.

“I can be pretty certain that the demand will increase greatly and probably already has to start Monday with [Phase} 1B,” he said.

He went on to state:

“We certainly won’t continue to send vaccine to providers in those areas that don’t have demand for it.”

DHEC’s board will hear a presentation on the regional model on Thursday, March 11 at its regularly scheduled meeting.

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