MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - More than 76,600 people have already received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in South Carolina.
The S.C. Hospital Association says in order to vaccinate more people ages 70 and over, medical agencies need more vaccine doses immediately.
Earlier this week, DHEC authorized hospitals and medical providers to begin vaccinating people ages 70 and up with appointments Wednesday.
Within a few hours of opening appointments, some hospitals reported they’re no longer able to schedule additional vaccination appointments due to limited supply.
The SCHA says many states across the country are experiencing a vaccine shortage.
Chief Operating Officer Melanie Matney said as much as hospitals want to quickly protect a population that’s vulnerable to COVID-19, it’s difficult to do because of the limited amount of dosages allotted to the state. Without more shipments, there’s a shortage to meet an additional group eligible to receive it.
“The limitations on the availability of the vaccine are extraordinary,” said Matney. “The state is facing significant vaccine shortages. There is not enough vaccine. We have more appointments scheduled to take up all the vaccine we already have on hand.”
She said in order for more hospitals to receive more dosages, changes have to be made on the federal level so South Carolina can receive more shipments.
“Every state in our country is in the same situation,“ said Matney. “Not only do we need staff to administer the vaccine and care for patients, we also need vaccines. We’re all in the same boat trying to get additional vaccine. The shortage [comes from] we’re sharing the vaccine with 49 other states. So Pfizer, Moderna, anyone else coming on board [with a vaccine], I know they’re working as quickly as they can but it wouldn’t hurt for us to get a little bit faster.”
Matney says because the vaccine isn’t widely available yet, now is not the time to let down your safety guards. She says everyone must continue to wear face masks, wash your hands and keep the required 6-feet of distance from one another until the COVID-19 threat is no longer.
“There’s a lot of people that want the vaccine,” she explained. “So my main message would be to remain patient. Everyone is going to get their turn and get the vaccine. But we have to ramp up the amount of federal supply in South Carolina.”
Many residents have expressed their concerns to our news team about the vaccination process. One of them is Horry County resident MaryAnn Carruthers. Carruthers is 70 years old, with 47 years of experience in the medical field.
“I’m a big believer in the [vaccine] shot,” she said.
Carruthers worked as a radiation therapist treating cancer patients, before retiring in July 2017 from the Medical University of South Carolina.
She said she was hoping to quickly receive the vaccine, but right now that’s not an option.
“I do have an appointment through Medical University but that’s not until next month,” said Carruthers. “So I’m frustrated. I’m sure other people are frustrated. I’m a fairly healthy 70-year-old. I cannot imagine people who have underlying issues and don’t want to leave their houses, I’m sure they want the vaccine.
She’s disappointed with how state leaders organized the vaccine appointment and distribution process.
“Governor Henry McMaster, he should’ve seen this coming,” said Carruthers. “Somebody in the government should’ve seen this coming. They knew we were going to have to mass vaccinate.”
Based on her expertise, Carruthers recommends DHEC and state leaders look at ways to do various sites where mass vaccination stations can happen safely.
“Just like the [rapid COVID-19] testing [sites],” she said. “Force people to register online and all they have to do is come in and show their ID. If they don’t have an ID then say ‘bye-bye,’ then you can’t participate in it. They [must] have something that has their birthdate on it. I just believe in this day and age they need to [implement] vaccination stations.”
Some people have expressed concerns about vaccination stations, citing wait times and issues related to the process. Carruthers says there are ways to make it happen.
“I would say try it,” she said. “Surely, there’s somebody that can set this up. There are people in this world that are organized and the government of South Carolina needs to find those people.”
She hopes to receive the vaccine dosage sooner. In the meantime, Carruther’s is urging DHEC to relook at it’s map showing the vaccine locations for COVID-19. She feels it could bring some people a bit of false hope about being able to quickly receive a vaccine.
“What a sad website,” said Carruthers. “They’ve got all these red dots. Well, those red dots don’t do us any good because they can’t give out the vaccines. And the three places that are even close to here in the green, you can’t get in. So I know people are frustrated and I feel bad for people.”