CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – Hospitals across the Grand Strand received an influx of COVID-19 vaccine appointments as Wednesday marked the day that those 70 and older could begin making appointments.
Tidelands Health announced Wednesday afternoon that they have seen a “tremendous response” to those submitting requests to receive the vaccine.
Tidelands Health had set up an online form that allowed those 70 and older to submit a vaccination request.
VACCINE REQUEST FORM | Tideland’s Health online vaccine form for those 70 and older
Officials at the hospital system said they received more than 15,000 requests by midday. The team at Tidelands Health has already started contacting those who submitted requests and they expect to schedule about 2,000 appointments next week.
“Going forward, the pace at which we will schedule appointments and provide the vaccine is dependent upon vaccine supply, which remains limited,” said Dawn Bryant, a spokesperson for Tidelands Health.
Bryant added that they will provide regular email updates to those who have submitted a vaccine request so that they can stay informed.
For 72-year-old Patti Martinelli, she said she went onto the Tidelands Health website first thing in the morning and was able to fill out the form. Martinelli said she did get an email back from Tidelands Health. The email said she’ll have to wait a few days to find out when she can have her appointment.
“At least I’m on the list,” Martinelli said.
She added her main reason to get vaccinated is to be able to see her 102-year-old mother. Martinelli said she hasn’t seen her since March 13. She said being on the list makes her feel some sense of relief.
Meanwhile at Conway Medical Center, within hours, the staff announced on their website Wednesday morning that the hospital has reached its capacity for appointments.
“We apologize for the inconvenience but based on anticipated allocation of vaccines from DHEC we have reached our capacity,” the announcement on CMC’s homepage states, under the heading COVID-19 Vaccinations for ages 70+.
“Within a couple of hours on Wednesday morning due to an overwhelming response with thousands of requests, we have reached our capacity for scheduling appointments based on our current and anticipated allocation of vaccines from DHEC,” a CMC press release stated. “We will open more appointments as soon as we know how many vaccine doses will be allocated to us from DHEC. We have requested more, but until we know how many we will receive and when, we are unable to schedule any more appointments.”
A CMC spokesperson said this is “an unprecedented massive effort.”
“We want to vaccinate everyone and will do so as supply from DHEC is given to us,” spokesperson Allyson Floyd said.
Health leaders have warned that while some people may be able to book an appointment, they may not be able to actually receive the vaccine for several weeks because healthcare providers are still vaccinating critical frontline healthcare workers, and there isn’t enough supplies of the vaccine.
According to DHEC, as the federal government is able to distribute more doses to S.C., more locations will begin to have doses available and be able to schedule more appointments for those 70 and older.
For people like 71-year-old John Glusko, he said the whole process has been confusing. He said he called the DHEC Care Line for guidance, but it didn’t clear up any of his confusion. Instead, it added to the frustration.
“I’m not happy about being hung up on after waiting for two hours. But who knows what happened. Maybe someone hit the wrong button and I was the one on the line. It was a little frustrating but I can understand it. It’s not the easiest thing in the world. A lot of people who are interested in getting this vaccine,” Glusko said.
He added, his brother in law died from COVID-19. He wants to get the vaccine sooner than later.
FIND A LOCATION | Interactive map shows which hospitals are taking appointments