Doctors in the Lowcountry prepare to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:17 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift may be on the horizon.

“I think this is a pivotal phase where we are moving from diagnostics into therapeutics which is great,” MUSC Chief Quality Officer Dr. Danielle Scheurer said.

Announcements about two major vaccine trials from Pfizer and Moderna have heightened anticipation as South Carolina health officials prepare for distribution. Scheurer says weekly meetings with the state’s Vaccine Advisory Committee help prioritize who will part of the state’s Phase 1 distribution as outlined in the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Plan.

“Some of that terminology is open for interpretation for who really does qualify,” Scheurer said. “That’s where a place like MUSC really has to get into the weeds and figure out who really is eligible for the Phase 1-a.”

Under the state plan, vaccine providers will undergo specific training and be required to monitor vaccine temperature twice a day. Concerns about ultra-cold temperatures during transport and storage are also being addressed.

“The ultra-cold storage, as you know, is going to be a challenge,” Scheurer said. “MUSC in particular does have two large ultra-cold freezers. We don’t anticipate needing more than those two.”

Distributing a vaccine to rural communities is another challenge but Scheurer says the framework for reaching these areas has already been established.

“We’ve already figured out how to get into rural communities and offer testing to sites that otherwise would never have had access to COVID testing,” Scheurer said. “Our goal is to collateralize upon all of that existing infrastructure to use that also for vaccine deployment.”

You can read more about the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Plan here.

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