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Falling vaccine demand puts doses at risk of going bad at some S.C. sites

Mass vaccination site
Mass vaccination site(WZAW)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:04 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Some COVID-19 vaccine sites are saying a decrease in demand is leading to the risk of vaccine doses going unused.

This information comes as DHEC officials said that the supply of the vaccine is continuing to increase.

Regional Medical Center’s CEO Kirk Wilson said so far no doses have gone to waste from their walk-in vaccination sites but a decrease in demand has led to volunteers and nurses reaching out to get people vaccinated before they go to waste.

“We’ve not wasted any doses; none have been thrown out,” Wilson said. “There have been a couple of times in Calhoun where we’ve kind of gotten to the middle of the day and we thought we were going to have some leftover doses so we put out the notices to local businesses that if they have people who need to be vaccinated, we have vials that will be open, we are going to have some extra vaccine so people have come and gotten vaccinated.”

Wilson said that the hospital receives around 1,000 vaccine doses a week. They hold walk-in vaccinations on Fridays at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds and on Wednesdays at Calhoun County High School.

He said that over the last few weeks there’s been a decrease in demand, especially at the Calhoun County High School location. He believes is from a variety of factors including demand catching up with supply, difficulty for some people to take time off of work to get the vaccine, and vaccine hesitancy.

“We think there is some general hesitancy to get vaccinated,” Wilson said. “But at the end of the day, we open the doors if we have any leftover to whoever wants to be vaccinated, which is what I think the state wants us to do- they never want us to waste a dose and we haven’t wasted any.”

DHEC officials said they don’t want any vaccine doses going to waste and recommend call-back lists to make sure every vaccine is used.

“First and foremost we want the vaccine used; we don’t want any wasted,” DHEC’s Senior Deputy for Public HealthNick Davidson said.

Wilson added that transportation can also be an issue when it comes to residents getting to the vaccine sites.

“It can be 50 to 80 miles from one end of the county to the other. Some of these folks who don’t have good means to get around so we are going to get buses to bring them to the vaccination centers,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he believes demand will pick back up once the vaccine opens to group 1C, something he thinks the state is ready for with the dropping demand.

“I think as soon as they open up to the rest of the adult population- nothing creates demand like demand,” Wilson said.

DHEC officials said that right now the plan is for the vaccine to open to group 1C, which includes all individuals ages 45 and up, on April 12th. Officials said that could change with demand playing a large role in when the state moves to the next phase.

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