COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - New resources will soon be available to those hunting down appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.
As South Carolina vaccine providers continue to cater only to those in Phase 1a of distribution, DHEC has faced issues with high call volume, inaccurate appointment availability, and an overall shortage of supply.
The agency hopes a new call line and online appointment scheduler can help alleviate some of these problems.
On Friday, Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim director of public health, said they are expecting to launch a line dedicated to vaccine appointment-related questions.
Previously, the department had been using their CARE line, along with integrating S.C. Emergency Management Department’s PIPS line, usually activated during hurricanes.
Roughly 60 people had been handling the CARE line, along with a handful of State and National Guard members. Meanwhile. the phones rang around the clock, averaging 24,000 calls a day.
“We really appreciate all that the CARE line and PIPS continue to do to answer these calls 7 days a week and help provide this very important information to the public,” said Traxler.
DHEC says they’re looking to have over 100 people operating this dedicated line. The current CARE line will switch to handling non-vaccine related questions. It’s not clear what the new line’s phone number will be at this time.
In addition, the much-anticipated statewide and online vaccine appointment scheduler is expected to go live next week as well.
“It’s being finalized with our IT experts, and we’ll have more details about it next week before it goes live,” said Traxler.
It’s not clear at this time if it is optional for hospitals to be part of this online platform. Conway Medical Center told WMBF News Thursday they hadn’t received guidance on that yet.
This question was submitted to DHEC Friday, but our news team did not receive an answer. We will continue to follow up.
Stay with WMBF News for updates.