As vaccine demand drops, groups push walk-ins, more outreach

Source: Live 5
Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 3:30 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For months, the supply of coronavirus vaccines did not match how many people wanted their Covid-19 shot. But now, many hospitals and health providers are seeing a drop in demand just as the supply has caught up.

Quenton Tompkins, the government affairs manager for the Medical University of South Carolina, said the vaccine demand is most likely due to multiple things like more supply, the people who have already been vaccinated or recovered from the virus, and continued hesitancy.

“I think we have folks who really wanted to go out and get the vaccine, they have now had the opportunity and gone out and done that,” Tompkins said. “I think it’s a combination of folks just waiting and seeing, to see what happens and how others react to the vaccine.”

The South Carolina Hospital Association says there are ways distributors can remove barriers to the vaccine and incentivize more people to come out.

The association’s chief operating officer, Melanie Matney says in addition to increasing mobile vaccine clinics for more rural area, another way to vaccinate more people is through walk-in clinics, rather than appointment only.

“Now, as we’re taking walk-ins, we’re hoping that continues to lessen the barriers,” Matney said. “Also, we are encouraging hospitals and DHEC and other providers to make sure that the vaccine process is the same as any other process to get a vaccine, you come to your doctor’s office.”

Trident Medical Center has used a walk-in system since December.

“We’ve had no one say, ‘gosh I wish you would have had an appointment-based system,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lee Biggs said. “It worked with people’s schedules.”

Hospitals like MUSC and Roper St. Francis have been using appointment-only systems since distribution started.

Dr. Robert Oliverio, Chief Medical Officer with Roper said appointments have helped secure the number of shots needed in each clinic and get people back in the door for their second doses.

“If you don’t have that done for you, the likelihood that you’re going to go through with that second vaccine decreases,” Oliverio said.

Although Roper Healthcare has no plans yet to create walk-in clinics, Oliverio said they are not ruling it out in the future.

“There’s definitely room for a different strategy and a walk-in strategy could fit in that scenario,” Oliverio said.

While they are only accepting appointments right now, MUSC plans to expand more walk-in capabilities over the next few weeks.

“Within probably the next week or two you’ll see some of our language change to reflect that,” Tompkins said. “To say, appointments preferred, walk-ins welcome.”

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