People struggling to find vaccine appointments as Phase 1B begins in SC

Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 6:52 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina health officials say vaccine demand significantly outweighs supply.

As of Monday, 2.7 million more people in the state can schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments as the state moves into phase 1B.

Phase 1B includes people who are 55 and over, people with certain underlying health conditions who are 16 and older and frontline workers with an increased risk of exposure to the virus at work. That includes but is not limited to teachers, daycare workers, government workers and grocery store workers.

Summerville resident Kathleen Cranford is qualified to receive the vaccine based on her health conditions. She says she’s been unable to find an appointment in her area.

“I’ve just like looked through every scheduling possibility there is,” Cranford said. “You can schedule online for MUSC, for CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and I will keep getting the message, there’s no available appointments within like 25 miles.”

She says one of her friends were able to get an appointment in Orangeburg, which is about an hour away.

Cranford says she mostly stays home to avoid getting sick because she’s at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“I don’t want to get sick, and I also don’t want to spread it to other people,” Cranford said. “I was actually supposed to have my wedding in January and we had to cancel it because of COVID.”

Lowcountry resident Gregg Keating says he tried scheduling his vaccination appointment at 12:01 a.m. on Monday but was unable to secure one.

Keating, a former fighter and current trainer, says he’s 57 with a benign brain tumor. He’ll be getting some radiation treatment in mid-March so he’d like to the vaccine before then.

“It’s gonna make me more vulnerable, I want some body armor and that’s what I’m looking for with a vaccine.” Keating said. “I’m pretty robust kind of guy and I can handle it, but am I afraid? No, but I like methodologies and I like pertinent things put in place.”

People who meet phase 1A requirements say they’re also struggling to get vaccine appointments. MUSC Health and Roper St. Francis Healthcare are not currently scheduling appointments because of supply issues.

Keating says he would have liked state health officials to have the vaccine inventory before moving forward to the next phase.

“If I’m going to a grocery store, for me...bread and eggs I expect it to be there,” Keating said. “I don’t think this is the case.”

DHEC says as vaccine doses begin to increase in the coming weeks and months, more people will be able to get their shots more quickly.

Governor Henry McMaster’s office released the following statement:

“Both Governor McMaster and Dr. Simmer explained last week that as long as the vaccine supply - which is coming from the federal government on a per capita basis – remains limited, we won’t have enough for every South Carolinian who wants it. The governor’s ultimate goal is to make sure every dose we do receive quickly gets into the arm of a South Carolinian, and we’ve made tremendous strides in making that happen more efficiently over the past couple of months.

While we understand that a small group of eligible South Carolinians may not be able to immediately get an appointment with their preferred provider, it’s important to remember that as supply of the vaccine increases, more and more folks will be able to get an appointment and get the vaccine.”

As appointments become available, you’ll be able to locate them with DHEC’s vaccine site locator tool.

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