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South Carolina pharmacies ran out of Johnson and Johnson vaccine two weeks ago; struggling to get more

Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) -On Thursday, we told you people in South Carolina are not going back to get their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer.

We are told people prefer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because it is a one-and-done deal, but on Friday, our vaccine team learned local pharmacies just cannot keep up with the demand.

The struggle is not with too many people coming in to get a vaccine. It is the supply from the Department of Health and Environmental. It is all in the numbers.

South Carolina went from a big shipment of Johnson and Johnson to barely getting an eighth of the first week’s shipment. It is caused struggles for local pharmacies trying to get their communities vaccinated.

”It is so overwhelming,” says Redec Pharamacy owner Dr. Hewis Bartels.

The Redec pharmacy door’s windchimes and phones have been ringing with people coming in and calling to find out about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Bartels does not have any.

”I was very frustrated not being able to give the vaccines to the people who are ready to take it,” says Bartels.

A few weeks ago, she got 300 doses to put into her Fort Mill community. Redec was one of 124 pharmacies activated by the Department of Health and Environmental Control for Johnson and Johnson’s one shot.

”I was so excited. And we were averaging about 50 shots a day,” she says. “So in a week and a half so in a week and a half we were almost out of the vaccine.”

Bartels request have gone unanswered. No new doses mean rescheduled appointments. She had to call people with appointments the past two weeks and tell them she has no vaccine for them.

”It’s just frustrating waiting for the vaccine while people desperately need the vaccine,” she says.

WBTV asked South Carolina’s Senior Deputy of Public Health Nick Davidson what the holdup is. He calls it a numbers game. The agency went from getting 41,000 doses the first week to 5,000 the following weeks.

”As you know trying to divide that by 124 pharmacies just doesn’t work well,” says Davidson. “So it really has been more of a supply problem.”

There is some good news on the way. Davidson says the state expects almost 30,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines next week. He says this will really help the current vaccine supply and the pharmacies getting Johnson and Johnson.

”We’re encouraged that we will be getting some. A larger amount. And we anticipate getting more in the weeks coming,” says Davidson.

Bartels knows she wants to be on the list to get more so she can start calling people to come get the vaccine.

”If I receive a thousand doses today I would be willing to stay over and immunize a thousand people,” says Bartels.

As we have learned—data shows South Carolinians preference for the Johnson and Johnson shot. WBTV asked Davidson if DHEC would try to get more of the one dose shot so South Carolinians can be fully vaccinated. He says the agency is not going to specifically ask for more but they are highly anticipating more J&J coming to South Carolina.

DHEC also touched on people not getting the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna. They want to remind those South Carolinians that you have to be fully vaccinated to take advantage. Those include meeting with other vaccinated people without masks on and not quarantining after exposure. The guidelines will not apply to you unless you get the second shot.

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