Lowcountry hospitals brace for new wave of vaccine-eligible patients amid supply shortage

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry hospital systems have put a pause on some first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments. This comes as individuals in Phase 1b become eligible to receive doses next week.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said that in the last three weeks, there have been over 50,000 first-dose visits that had to be rescheduled, causing them to pause scheduling any new first dose appointments due to the “extremely low vaccine supply.”

MUSC is not alone in rescheduling appointments for those in Phase 1a, as Roper St. Francis said they have 4,300 individuals on a waiting list until more vaccines are brought in.

As a part of Phase 1a, Ben Kelly, a student at MUSC was in line to get vaccinated. That was up until three weeks ago when supply diminished. 

Kelly said it’s unfortunate, as he would like to have it ahead of his clinical and dealing with more vulnerable populations. But now, he is one of the more than 60,000 between Roper St. Francis and MUSC that had to be rescheduled following vaccine delays due to severe winter weather across the country.

Dr. Robert Oliverio, with Roper St. Francis said there are two main issues for healthcare providers: vaccine supply and vaccine delivery.

Dr. Oliverio said they’ve only been getting a little over 1,000 doses per shipment—which has proved to not meet the demand of 1a —let alone adding in 1b:

“So that severely limits us for scheduling folks in 1a, now opening that up to 1b would require a significantly increased number of doses than what we are getting. I’m not sure whether of not that’s forthcoming.”

While there’s an indefinite hold on rescheduling appointments, Kelly says he’s exploring other avenues:

“Basically, I have the chance to ask for the vaccine again through the Coast Guard, so it looks like I’ll be able to get it through them a little sooner than I would than if I had to be rescheduled for the original one.”

MUSC says once supply is restored they will begin rescheduling first doses for those in Phase 1 a and Phase 1b, while Roper St. Francis says they will be putting those in Phase 1b on a waitlist.

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