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DHEC leadership not concerned about state vaccine supply with new federal allocation rules

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 8:27 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The rules for states and their COVID-19 vaccine allocations are changing.

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

The Biden Administration announced on Tuesday that if states do not request their entire allocation based on population, the unused doses will go to states with higher demand.

RELATED STORY | Amid drop in demand, Biden aims for 70% of US adults vaccinated by July 4

On Wednesday, Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly didn’t appear worried.

“We don’t want them sitting in our freezer situations where they might expire, because that would be unused vaccine and that’s no good. Better it should go to places that can utilize them right away because we’re not worried there’s no more vaccine coming. There’s plenty of vaccine coming, these manufacturers are making more,” she said.

Kelly said South Carolina’s supply of doses is meeting demand and DHEC data backs that up.

As of May 3, the state had 447,852 doses in inventory and only 126,567 scheduled appointments.

“I am no longer worried that where we’re in a situation where we’re afraid we need to hang on every dose because we’re afraid we might be short. We have more vaccine than we have available to us than we have demand right now, and that’s true as a nation as a whole,” she said.

Kelly said the state will order Pfizer and Moderna doses as needed based on provider demand, while Johnson and Johnson orders will be maxed out due to the logistical one-shot ease of the vaccine.

WIS reached out to DHEC’s public affairs team after the regularly scheduled news conference about the potential number of doses South Carolina expects to have flowed into the federal pool.

It received this response:

“We’re awaiting clear guidance from the federal government in regard to its newly announced allocation plans, so we can’t say at this time what number of doses for our state the federal government would consider eligible for redistribution elsewhere. We will continue to keep enough vaccine in-state for making sure everyone who wants their shot has quick and easy access to the vaccine, as well as maintaining a reserve of 5,000 Moderna and Pfizer doses each at all times. As provided earlier, we will continue to pull down all Janssen doses currently available to the state.”

DHEC data shows as of May 3, there were 381,200 doses available to the state from the federal government, but not yet ordered.

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