S.C.’s top doctor: State’s vaccination allotment ‘insufficient’ to meet demand

Updated: Jan. 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina’s top doctor calls the state’s vaccination allotment “insufficient” to meet demand.

This is a trend we see across the country. Reports show many states are struggling to keep up with demand. However, the Palmetto state may be having more troubles than others.

Interim Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler has not outwardly commented on the data. She could not confirm it, but did say the allotment is just not cutting it.

”We are seeing that demand exceeding supply so it’s about not seeing enough vaccine coming into South Carolina,” says Traxler.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) numbers back that statement up. Here is what the data says. South Carolina and Alabama have similar population sizes. Alabama is getting more than 9,000 doses per 100,000 people to South Carolina’s 6,800.

This means Alabama is getting a quarter more doses than the Palmetto state despite it having fewer people. Despite that, South Carolina is giving out more shots per capita than Alabama.

This is impacting the Palmetto State. It is affecting vaccination locations from giving shots to people in Phase 1A. That is those 70 and older, healthcare workers, and hospital patients 65 and older who do not have COVID-19.

Statewide, we have seen some hospitals canceling vaccine appointments because it does not have enough to give out. Beaufort Memorial Hospital cancelled more than 6,000 vaccine appointments through the end of March because it did not have enough vaccine, according to a press release.

Our media partners at the Rock Hill Herald say Hilton Head and Costal Carolina hospitals had to cancel 300 appointments. WBTV checked with the area hospitals and it is not happening here, but Traxler had some insight on the cancellations.

”What they do have is already allotted or earmarked for people who already have appointments, or they just don’t have enough vaccine,” she says.

Traxler says 100% of South Carolina’s doses are already given away or ready to give away to people with appointments. So then people may be wondering why some were able to make appointments if there is not enough vaccine.

The South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) says the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) only gave hospitals a quarter of what most of them requested this week. The gap led to hospitals not having enough vaccine to give to those already signed up.

It is not only impacting hospitals. Appointments to get a vaccine through Publix are completely booked. The grocery store chain announced Monday it would open appointments in 17 South Carolina counties. The booking site went live at 6 a.m. today. Those appointments were gone in just a couple hours.

WBTV asked Traxler what the state has to do next to make sure it is getting more vaccine. She pointed to two federal agencies.

”We are remaining in conversation with Operation Warp Speed and the CDC,” she says. “Hopefully we will soon have an answer.”

WBTV reached out to both the CDC and Operation Warp Speed on Tuesday through the Department of Health and Human Services for answers. Neither agency has returned the calls or emails. WBTV will follow up Wednesday with them.

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