Some S.C. organizations say DHEC’s new vaccine rollout should have prioritized elderly

Some S.C. organizations say DHEC’s new vaccine rollout should have prioritized elderly

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - As the vaccine roll out continues across South Carolina, DHEC has made it clear that their main goal is to get as many shots into arms as quickly as possible.

But some organizations say who is getting those shots is more important than anything.

Last week, the DHEC board passed a vaccine allocation model that based distribution off population size per county.

“This strategy prioritizes vaccinating as many South Carolinians as quickly as possible.”

Monday, organizations that represent vulnerable South Carolinians came together to say they did not support the plan.

“We have a well-founded concern about any vaccine allocation methodology that fails to prioritize those vulnerable populations,” Carolina Health Centers President Sue Veers said.

DHEC says the decision was made trying to get vaccines to as many people as possible. Even though there’s more demand than there is supply.

“The difficulty as always is a very limited supply of vaccines we have right now. We don’t have enough vaccines for everyone who is in phase 1A currently.”

Organizations speaking out say the board should have passed a plan that prioritized older residents.

“95% of all deaths from COVID are from people 50 and older. And that’s why we were so concerned with the DHEC board’s decision last week to go on a population only basis,” SC AARP State Director Teresa Arnold said.

Phase 1A allows those 70 or older or those in nursing homes to get the vaccine. It does not account for people with disabilities who have stayed out of homes.

“To be eligible for the services someone must require a nursing home level of care. Yet within vaccine distribution they have not been prioritized with nursing home residents,” Able SC Executive Director Kimberly Tissot said.

“We will continue to look out our allocation plan and as we move forward with this begin to tweak it to make sure we can get it to the people who need it the most.”

Doctors are still unsure of the timeline for when we will move into the next phase of the vaccine roll out, but according to DHEC’s timeline it should be in the early spring.

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