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Horry Co. ‘frustrated’ over communication about vaccine programs, suspends appointments for doses

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 2:19 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Officials with Horry County Government said they have suspended appointments for their COVID-19 vaccination program, citing “miscommunication” over vaccine doses.

According to an update released Thursday, Horry County staff said they’d received assurances from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control that Horry County Fire Rescue was in good standing in the vaccination program, with state health officials confirming that vaccine inventory requests for the next delivery cycle could be fulfilled.

“As directed by SCDHEC, we opened up for public appointments using the VAMS appointment scheduling system. As a result, approximately 800 individuals meeting the Phase 1A and 1B criteria have signed up through the VAMS appointment scheduling system for first dose vaccine,” a county press release stated.

On Wednesday night, Horry County staff said a representative from DHEC denied that the order for additional first doses would be placed, citing “miscommunication” between DHEC officials.

“Despite indicating their commitment to making sure everyone who received a first dose would receive a second dose in future shipments, Horry County Fire Rescue has not received a shipment of vaccine from SCDHEC since February 12, 2021,” the county’s update stated.

County officials said Horry County Fire Rescue has reserved enough vaccines to administer to those who have signed up. They’re advising residents who are scheduled to receive the vaccine with the county to still come to their scheduled appointment.

According to the county, staff are also ensuring that everyone who has receive a first dose with HCFR will be able to receive their second dose.

“At this point, the County has suspended appointments through the VAMS appointment scheduling system, and we do not anticipate any further doses from SCDHEC. First dose appointments with our facility will conclude on April 6, 2021 and after all of the second dose appointments have been honored, we will conclude our vaccination program,” the county’s update stated.

According to Horry County officials, they “remain frustrated by the lack of ability from SCDHEC to consistently communicate with vaccine providers in the state.”

“We are not alone, and we find it necessary to speak out,” a county update stated. “We have endeavored to work cooperatively with SCDHEC, but have been thwarted at every turn.”

WMBF News has reached out to DHEC for comment on the county’s Thursday update.

Horry County officials announced on March 4 that those eligible for the vaccine could schedule an appointment to get their shot through Horry County Fire Rescue. This announcement came after DHEC representatives said the county would not get additional vaccine doses after WMBF News obtained an email sent to all county employees offering them the chance to receive the vaccine.

A DHEC representative said earlier this week that since their February meeting with Horry County officials, “HCFR has administered its limited doses appropriately.”

According to the DHEC official, it was their understanding HCFR didn’t have a scheduling mechanism in place yet and they had reached out to DHEC for assistance and were working to get them connected with a scheduler, either VAMS or CVAS.

“Because HCFR isn’t set up as a public provider, meaning it’s not set up to schedule appointments, DHEC is working to connect HCFR with a scheduling system, either CVAS or VAMS. Once HCFR has its public clinic set up to make appointments, that public clinic will appear on the vaccine locator map as available for appointments for as long as doses remain,” the DHEC representative said Tuesday.

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