Clarendon County left with no vaccination options as federal distribution slows roll-out

Clarendon County left with no vaccination options as federal distribution slows roll-out
(Source: Chris Joseph)

MANNING, S.C. (WIS) - COVID-19 patients in Clarendon County are finding themselves in the hospital more often than their counterparts across the state.

Their prospects of getting a vaccination appointment in-county on Monday are low as well. As of Jan. 16, DHEC data shows 9.7 percent of the county’s cases result in hospitalizations. The highest rate in the state in Union County at 10.5 percent.

As of Jan. 18, Clarendon County featured only two locations to get vaccinated, neither of which is offering appointments.

One is McLeod Health Clarendon. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine Rabon said the shortage of vaccine doses is at issue.

“We put requests in, and we get updates typically weekly. Unfortunately, we don’t know if we will get what we request, or if we’ll get any at all,” she said.

In a press release on Friday, the South Carolina Hospital Association said DHEC will only be fulfilling a quarter of the doses hospitals are requesting.

The Clarendon location is one of several facilities under the McLeod Regional Medical Center for its COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

As of Jan. 17, DHEC records show those facilities have used almost 100 percent of their allocated Pfizer doses, with 8,766 doses administered.

“When we do have access to the vaccine, we absolutely will be working with the county to figure out the best way to roll that out,” Rabon said.

CDC data shows South Carolina is ranked last in the nation among states for the allocation of doses from the federal government per capita.

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Rabon said the lack of doses further impacts an area that is already lacking resources.

“I’m amazed when I make rounds with patients the number of people of people who still use flip phones, that don’t have smartphones that don’t have internet access in their homes,” she said. “I think that’s going to be an issue when we roll out the vaccine when they have to go online and register.”

In a call with journalists on Monday, DHEC Interim Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler said DHEC not yet have an explanation from the CDC for the lack of doses.

However, she said clinics will be rolling out in more rural areas to meet that demand as doses arrive early this week.

“Once they vaccinate of course their staff, which many of them will already be vaccinated, they will begin vaccinating in phase 1a,” she said.

Those who are 70 and older, along with Phase 1a workers can find information on where to book appointments here.

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