State health department announces new vaccine allocation model; Lowcountry to receive 27.1% of doses

State health department announces new vaccine allocation model; Lowcountry to receive 27.1% of doses
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced a change in how it will allocate vaccine doses Thursday across South Carolina. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF/WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced a change in how it will allocate vaccine doses Thursday across South Carolina.

The move changes the plan from distribution based solely on population of a given area to distribution based population plus additional vulnerability factors taken into account.

Under the adjusted plan, the Lowcountry will receive 27.1% of doses the state receives. Based on the latest weekly allocation of 115,490 doses sent to the Palmetto State, that would translate into 29,733 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in the Lowcountry.

The Midlands would receive the most doses, with 29% of the allocation, or about 31,817 doses.

The Upstate will receive 24.5% and the Pee Dee region would receive the remaining 19.6%.

The allocation model starts with allocating by per-capita, but then factors in the following:

  • Percent of the population over 55 years old
  • Percent of minority population
  • Diabetes and hypertension prevalence
  • Percent below poverty rate
  • Two-week COVID-19 incidence rate
  • Percent of population still unvaccinated

But DHEC determined that even with the adjusted dose allocations, the total can’t vary by more than 5% from the allocation that would have been made without the additional vulnerability factors.

The baseline will be determined on the approximate averages of the last two weeks of deliveries.

“(Hospitals have) asked for a certain amount, they’ve made appointments based one what they’ve asked for, and then sometimes they ask for more than we can give them,” DHEC Director Dr. Ed Simmer said. “I think now that they know what the baseline will be, they should always know that much, they can point to that baseline, which will mean these problems you’ve seen with canceling appointments should hopefully largely go away.”

DHEC is working to establish baselines for facilities that get the Moderna vaccine. They also announced the establishment of “CARE Panels”, one in each DHEC district. This includes members from vaccine providers and non-provider community groups.

It’s meant to help identify any gaps in vaccine allocation and make recommendations on where resources should go.

This follows previous talks by DHEC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee that the state would be shifting to more localized advisory committees going forward in the state’s vaccine rollout.

Second doses are based on what the facility was sent for first dose shipments.

Nick Davidson, DHEC senior deputy for public health, said in February alone, about 65% of the vaccine administered by DHEC-run clinics took place in rural areas.

Over 300 medical providers, like family practices, are being activated to help provide vaccine.

“As we get more vaccine in hopefully in the next coming weeks, particularly additional Janssen vaccine, we hope to be able to push that out to them,” Davidson said.

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