Lowcountry hospitals show high utilization rates for COVID-19 vaccinations

Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 2:33 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Lowcountry health care systems have been giving out thousands of extra COVID-19 vaccine doses found in Pfizer vials.

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for five doses of the vaccine per vial, however many have been discovered to contain enough for one or two additional shots.

“We actually found that you can get six and sometimes seven doses out of each vial,” Roper pharmacy manager Dr. John Fowler said.

When hospitals report to the state health department that they gave out those extra doses, that’s when utilization rates rise above 100 percent of what the state provided.

Fowler said Roper Hospital is currently at 120 percent utilization rate, averaging around six doses per vial for the first shot.

“Fortunately, we are able to get more than the anticipated doses per vial so for every vial we are getting an additional one or two people vaccinated,” Fowler said.

He said since they have begun giving vaccines out, officials usually plan on the extra dose and schedule more people to accommodate the need. Fowler also says DHEC works with the hospital to match the amount of second doses needed.

“They have promised us that based on the number of people we vaccinate, they will ensure that we will have supply for the second vaccination,” Fowler said.

The Medical University of South Carolina is reporting just under 108 percent of their vaccines distributed, that’s more than 5,000 additional doses since the hospital has started vaccinations in December.

Trident Medical Center is also consistently giving out more than five doses per vial at a utilization rate of 104 percent.

Fowler at Roper says even if the hospital finds more doses than appointments in a day, they will not let any go to waste.

“We will go and look for the phase 1-a healthcare workers that elected not to get their vaccination and see if they changed their mind,” Fowler said. “If not, we will still look for those people who are in that phase 1-a population, could be a patient’s spouse but we don’t let any go to waste.”

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