COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - The board for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control met Thursday to determine what COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan the agency would implement.
South Carolina is moving to a per capita region allocation model, with additional vulnerability factors taken into account.
Based on the new model, the Pee Dee will receive 19.6% of the allocation, or 21,504 vaccine doses. This is greater than what its allocation would have been if DHEC had remained with a per capita by population of 18.3%.
Meanwhile, the Lowcountry will receive 27.1% of the allocation, or 29,733 doses. The Midlands will receive the most, with 29% of the allocation, or 31,817 doses. And finally, the Upstate will receive 24.5% of the allocation, or 26,661 doses.
These dose numbers are based on the latest weekly allocation sent to South Carolina: 115,490 combined Pfizer and Moderna doses.
The allocation model starts with allocating by per capita. But because of state legislation, it also must factor in the following:
- Percent of the population over 55 years old
- Percent of minority population
- Diabetes and hypertension prevalence
- Percent below poverty rate
- Two-week COVID-19 incidence rate
- Percent of population still unvaccinated
This means DHEC will look at the percent of the population and compare that with the above factors. However, DHEC determined that the percent allocated for a region can’t vary by more than 5% from the actual per capita allocation.
DHEC said beginning next week, hospitals will start receiving a base amount, with future weeks not to be less than the week prior.
The baseline will be determined on the approximate averages of the last two weeks of deliveries (March 1 and March 8).
“(Hospitals have) asked for a certain amount, they’ve made appointments based one what they’ve asked for, and then sometimes they ask for more than we can give them,” said DHEC Director Dr. Ed Simmer. “I think now that they know what the baseline will be, they should always know that much, they can point to that baseline, which will mean these problems you’ve seen with canceling appointments should hopefully largely go away.”
DHEC is working to establish baselines for facilities that get the Moderna vaccine. They also announced the establishment of “CARE Panels”, one in each DHEC district. This includes members from vaccine providers and non-provider community groups.
It’s meant to help identify any gaps in vaccine allocation and make recommendations on where resources should go.
This follows previous talks by DHEC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee that the state would be shifting to more localized advisory committees going forward in the state’s vaccine rollout.
Second doses are based on what the facility was sent for first dose shipments.
Nick Davidson, DHEC senior deputy for public health, said in February alone, about 65% of the vaccine administered by DHEC-run clinics took place in rural areas.
Over 300 medical providers, like family practices, are being activated to help provide vaccine.
“As we get more vaccine in hopefully in the next coming weeks, particularly additional Janssen vaccine, we hope to be able to push that out to them,” Davidson said.
WMBF News has reached out to Tidelands Health, Conway Medical Center, and Grand Strand Medical Center to learn how this new method could impact their vaccine allocation. Officials at each system said they are still working to find out.