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‘Must improve’: House committee calls on DHEC to answer questions on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The South Carolina House of Representatives passed the Firefighter Cancer Health Benefit Plan...
The South Carolina House of Representatives passed the Firefighter Cancer Health Benefit Plan Wednesday. The plan is a supplemental insurance policy for firefighters who receive a cancer diagnosis.(Live 5/File)
Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 3:45 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – A House legislative committee investigating the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in South Carolina has more questions for the state’s health agency.

Last month, a House Legislative Oversight Committee grilled leaders with the Department of Health and Environmental Control for six hours about the slow rollout of the vaccine.

RELATED COVERAGE | S.C. lawmakers grill DHEC leaders on vaccine distribution process, speed

A letter was sent to the DHEC Acting Director Marshall Taylor on Tuesday to follow up on the hearing.

“The effectiveness and efficiency of the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s current process for receipt and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine must improve as the vaccine is a life-saving resource to our state and nation,” the letter stated.

In the letter, committee members said that it’s imperative to take steps to improve the public’s confidence in the rollout.

The committee then asked nearly 20 follow-up questions for DHEC to answer about distribution.

FORGING AHEAD | WMBF investigates South Carolina’s vaccine distribution process

A few questions asked about the distribution phases. One question asked, “Are providers permitted to allow any person, regardless of phase eligibility, to receive the vaccine to avoid waste?”

The Pfizer vaccine is a very temperamental one, and once it is thawed it cannot be frozen and reused.

Committee members were also concerned about making sure that people are able to get their second doses of the vaccine. Both Pfizer and Moderna require a second vaccine dose between 21-28 days of receiving the first dose.

They ask what safeguards are in place to guarantee that a second dose is available for a person. Another question posed was, “Does the agency have a mechanism for contacting individuals who have not returned for their second dose?”

The committee also wants DHEC to answer if the agency has partnered with logistical consultants to help with the vaccine distribution strategy.

The legislative committee is asking DHEC to provide information to the questions by Feb. 9.

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