COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Department of Health and Environmental Control gave its board a first look at the way the state will be distributing COVID-19 vaccine doses moving forward on Thursday.
A new state law requires DHEC to begin basing its vaccine distribution on public health region population and their corresponding demographics.
DHEC Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson listed off the following factors in his teams’ calculations:
- Percent of population over 55 years old
- Percent of minority population
- Diabetes and hypertension prevalence
- Percent below poverty rate
- 2-week COVID-19 incidence rate
- Percent of population still unvaccinated
“This is probably the largest spreadsheet I’ve come across in the last year of working at DHEC, and that’s a statement in of itself. It is an awful lot of analysis that goes into this, and it’s allowed us to arrive at this,” he said.
Davidson presented the following proportions, with the Midlands leading all regions with 29 percent of the vaccine doses. The WIS viewing area is split among the Midlands, Lowcountry, and Pee Dee.
Davidson said the deviation from population to allocation will be capped at 5 percent, and the department does have the ability to adjust according to needs.
He said panels comprised of vaccine administrators and community members in each region will help the department identify problems and propose solutions.
“If you’re in a community, you certainly know and you hear and you’re having conversations with individuals in your community that help you have a better understanding of what needs there are in the community,” he said.
Davidson said DHEC will have the ability to adjust where needed.
“If there seems to be areas that are underrepresented, and aren’t getting enough vaccine, or aren’t getting enough vaccinations done, then this will allow us to look to push a bit more to them as well,” he said.
As a part of the model, DHEC will begin giving hospitals baselines for weekly doses they can expect.
DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer said it will help reduce scheduling issues.
“They can appoint to that baseline, which will mean the problems we’ve seen with canceling appointments should hopefully largely go away,” he said.
The new regulations took effect on March 5 and will apply to orders made after that date.