COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolinians age 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wednesday, March 31st.
DHEC and the Governor made the announcement Friday afternoon with McMaster saying, “Our priority with the vaccine has been to save the lives of those at the greatest risk of dying. By staying the course and resisting distractions, we’ve expanded South Carolinians’ access and eligibility for vaccinations faster than originally anticipated.”
DHEC officials said that the speed of vaccinating South Carolinians has ramped up in the last few weeks, with about 23,000 vaccines going into arms every day.
Prisma Health’s Vaccine Taskforce Co-Chair Dr. Saria Saccocio said Prisma Health has been seeing more availability this week when it comes to appointments and felt they were prepared for when vaccinations opened to group 1C.
“We are experiencing more availability of appointments that are left on the schedule so this tells me that those who are desiring access are now gain that access—this is very exciting,” Saccocio said.
When it comes to the supply of the vaccine, Prisma Health announced today they expect to see a big boost starting next week.
Saccocio said the hospital is expecting a 35% increase in supply. They received a little over 22,000 doses this week, but they are expecting that number to increase to over 30,000 beginning next week.
“We have already opened up 3,000 new first dose appointments,” Saccocio said. “These can be scheduled via the Prisma Health My Chart access point. Assuming we receive the vaccine supply early next week as expected, we expect to open up many more first dose appointments beginning next Tuesday.”
Saccocio said Prisma Health remains committed to providing an equitable distribution of the vaccine. Prisma Health’s drive-through mass vaccination sites will continue to be a key way to get the vaccine to south Carolinians, but Dr. Saccocio said they’ve also been working to reach rural and underserved communities through things like mobile units and at-home testing.
Prisma Health has launched a home-bound and homeless program where the hospital has partnered with community agencies such as the Salvation Army and Gospel Mission to vaccinate those at their shelters.
They have also partnered with home health organizations to bring the vaccine to those who can’t physically leave their homes.
“Not only are we getting shots in arms, but our team is reaching out to individuals in rural and underserved areas, as well as the sheltered homeless and homebound,” Saccocio said. “Mobile units are one of the ways in which we have innovatively served our communities with our mobile health vaccination program. We’re using this program to target communities that are not being represented at our current vaccination sites.”
Saccocio announced they will be phasing out their drive-through COVID-19 testing locations at their hospital locations over the next week, saying that due to a drop in demand they will be having their physician offices handle the testing and volunteers will be re-directed to assist with vaccinations.