I hope you and your family had a safe and healthy holiday. I have received a lot of calls regarding vaccinations and the lack of communication on how they are being distributed. On top of that, you have the news media reporting how different states are handling the distribution to different aged populations.
I, along with several of my Senate colleagues, have had ongoing conversations with DHEC over the last week about better communication of the plan for South Carolina. In addition, the Governor has urged DHEC to communicate their plans for the vaccine distribution. Since that time, they have had a couple of press conferences (links below).
DHEC will have a dashboard set up this week that will allow you to see exactly who is getting the supply and how many have been administered, along with where to go and get it. Right now, DHEC is being supplied the Pfizer vaccine. At the same time, the Federal Government is distributing the Moderna vaccine to CVS and Walgreens, who are then administering the vaccine to nursing home caregivers and patients.
We have over 5 million people in our state. Let’s say 90% of the people want to get the vaccine. That’s 4.5 million for the first shot and 9 million total that will need to be administered. Over the first three weeks, SC received about 112,000 vaccines through DHEC and a little over 100,000 to Walgreens and CVS.
At an average of almost 105,000 shots received per week and 4,500,000 to give, you can see how long just the first shot distribution will take. I do believe production and the system will get better after we get through the current surge of positive COVID-19 tests and a maxed out hospital system.
Here is a list of some frequently asked questions:
What are the phases of distribution under the current plan: The following outline provides an overview of the anticipated categories and time for each phase. This is subject to change at any time for many reasons, such as a change in federal guidance or in the DHEC Vaccine Advisory Committee’s recommendations for South Carolina.
Phase 1a (Early Winter) – Vaccinations for phase 1a are anticipated to continue through February 2021. Phase 1a includes:
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Healthcare personnel, with initial focus on healthcare workers critical to the mission of preventing death. For a complete list of those workers currently considered in Phase 1a, go here.
- Phase 1A guidance can be seen here.
Phase 1b (late winter to early spring) – Based on current CDC guidance, the state will move into Phase 1b once 70 percent of South Carolinians identified in Phase 1a have been vaccinated. Phase 1b includes:
- Persons aged 75 years and older (with or without underlying health conditions)
- Frontline essential workers (sectors included by ACIP include fire fighters, law enforcement officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector—teachers, support staff, and daycare workers)
Phase 1c includes (late winter to early spring):
- Essential workers not included in Phase 1b (examples included by ACIP include people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health staff who are non-frontline healthcare workers)
- Persons aged 65-74 years (with or without underlying health conditions)
- Persons aged 16-64 years with underlying health conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 (more information to follow from the SC COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee)
Spring to Summer – Phase 2 is anticipated to begin in Spring 2021, with the vaccines expected to become available for the general public during the summer and fall of 2021.
How many vaccines have been given: As of yesterday, DHEC reports that 43,227 vaccinations have been administered in South Carolina. The total received in South Carolina to date since December 18 is 129,675. Those numbers will be updated daily in the VAMS Database and the data as of January 4 can be seen here.
When will DHEC launch the Online Vaccine Overview Dashboard: The dashboard is scheduled to launch tomorrow.
Why have some hospitals reported administering more doses than what is represented for their facility in the VAMS database: DHEC says this is because of two main reasons:
- The timing of when a vaccine shipment is received by a provider versus when it’s reported as delivered in VAMS in addition to the time between when the provider administers the vaccine to an individual and when the provider is then able to actually enter that information into the VAMS database.
- Current vaccine inventory is based on five doses per vial, however extra amounts of vaccine in some vials is allowing providers to administer six or seven shots per vial.
Why are more than 60% of vaccines in S.C. not yet given to people in Phase 1A: DHEC says that health care facilities are administering vaccines using available appropriate staff and this varies from hospital to hospital.
Has DHEC engaged the SC National Guard to help with vaccinations: DHEC reports that it is in discussions now with the SC National Guard to assist with vaccinations around the state.
Does the state have sufficient Ultra Cold Storage for the vaccines: DHEC says that it has identified locations in the state to store more than two (2) million doses of the vaccine at one time.
Will DHEC reallocate vaccine if needed to other parts of the state: Yes, DHEC says it will reallocate if needed as more vaccine from current and future providers become available. DHEC is currently monitoring vaccine allocation across our state and will reallocate vaccines to areas that need them. DHEC will not allow facilities to hoard or stockpile vaccines.
Where can I register to sign up for the vaccine: DHEC officials said they will not be registering any residents to a vaccine list. DHEC says that those individuals 75 or older who are not living in a nursing home will have to likely wait until Phase 1B.
How will DHEC notify the public when Phase 1B starts: DHEC will notify the press, hospitals, emergency management officials, elected officials, and others.
What is DHEC doing to coordinate vaccinating teachers and school staff: DHEC is working through the specifics with the State Department of Education.
Moderna/LTCF vaccine data: Residents and staff of long-term care facilities and nursing homes that are currently being vaccinated through the Long-Term Care Program managed by the CDC are recorded separately in a national database called Tiberius. Vaccine information is not expected to be available through Tiberius until sometime this week, and DHEC will provide more information as it becomes available through this federally managed database.
County Level case data: DHEC’s cumulative cases by county can be seen here.
Answers to other frequently asked questions: DHEC prepared this link to other frequently asked questions with answers.
DHEC’s media briefings: DHEC has committed to holding multiple updates a week on the status of the vaccination plan. The December 31, 2020 update can be seen here. The January 2, 2021 update can be seen here.
CDC vaccine data information: The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) has an extensive COVID-19 vaccine webpage with links that can be seen here.
S.C. Hospital Association COVID-19 vaccine page: For the Hospital Association’s webpage and information, go here.
Be aware of vaccine scams: Unfortunately, there are those who will try to take advantage of others by using fraudulent scams and other means. Please be vigilant. If you see or hear of a suspected vaccine scam, report it to law enforcement or email me at email@example.com. To learn more about avoiding such scams, go here.
Prevent the spread of the virus: COVID-19 is commonly spread through air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; or touching an object with the virus and making contact with mouth, nose, or eyes.
To prevent the spread of illness, remember to do the following:
- Practice good hygiene
- Wash your hands
- Cover your cough
- Wear a mask in public
Those who feel sick should stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.
Testing Locations: For testing locations in your area on any given day, click here and enter your location.
I will keep working to make sure plans are communicated and that we get the most efficient system possible to distribute the vaccines.
Thank you for the honor to serve District 8 in the SC Senate.
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