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S.C. health officials take steps to speed up vaccinations

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:48 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has released new guidance to accelerate the process of getting people vaccinated in South Carolina.

For the past week, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has said more needs to be done to speed up the vaccination process and is calling on hospitals to use all of their doses before receiving their next shipments.

The move comes on the heels of reports that the state broke its single-week record for deaths the week of Jan. 9, tallying 329 confirmed and suspected deaths. The previous record was 325 deaths, counted the week of July 25.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, interim Public Health Director Brannon Traxler said updated guidance was sent to vaccine providers on methods to help vaccinate as many people as possible.

Traxler said the guidance “will help ensure providers are putting every last drop of vaccine that comes into South Carolina into the arms of these Phase 1a individuals.”

Traxler said that no doses should be held back for second doses and that every vial that a facility receives to be actively used.

She added that she wants providers to be careful in their order requests and to ensure they have the capacity to hold the requested vaccines.

“We want providers to only order the number of doses that they have the capacity to administer the following week. Overordering can lead to vials sitting on shelves and that’s the last thing we want. We want every vial, every dose in every vial that comes into our state to be administered as quickly as possible,” Traxler said.

She reminded providers that while each Pfizer vial provides up to five doses, some of those vials can actually provide up to six or seven doses. The Moderna vials hold up to 10 doses but can provide 11 doses in some.

“Every dose of these vaccines should be used properly to vaccinate South Carolinians,” Traxler said.

The updated guidance also asks providers to not hold large-scale vaccination events that exceed the provider’s allocation without first consulting DHEC to ensure that sufficient doses would be available for the event.

Traxler added that clinics should be by appointment only.

“This avoids long lines and crowds, which could contribute to disease spread, and helps manage our residents’ expectations. There isn’t enough vaccine available to accommodate unscheduled walk-ins everywhere,” Traxler said. “We’ve already seen this create confusion and frustration.”

Vaccine providers are also advised to order their first doses and second doses separately so that they have enough to complete the second dose for people.

At this point, South Carolina continues to receive 63,000 doses of the vaccine from the federal government, and leaders expect that to be the case at least through January.

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