Homebound South Carolinians struggling to get COVID-19 vaccine


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Some homebound people across the Lowcountry say they are having trouble getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Health officials say they are working to establish ways to take vaccine doses to homebound patients.

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are becoming more accessible across the State of South Carolina. Some South Carolinians say despite being eligible to receive their dose, they haven’t been able to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Some say they find themselves stuck at home, others are struggling with technology needed to schedule online appointments. Health officials suggest calling a vaccine provider to schedule an appointment if you’re struggling.

“Our call center has been overwhelmed, we have a lot of people who want to get the vaccine,” says Amanda Biondi, a Registered Nurse and Director of the Greer Transitions Clinic in North Charleston for Roper St. Francis Hospital.

Biondi says patients struggling to make appointments online should call providers like Roper St. Francis to make a vaccine appointment. She says appointments can be made easily if supplies when sufficient available.

“So everyone, we’re all hands-on deck to get patients scheduled who may not feel comfortable going online to schedule their appointment,” says Biondo. “We’re happy to do it over the telephone.”

Broadband and technology gaps are the biggest culprits for those older adults struggling to get their dose in the Lowcountry and across the Palmetto State.

“Some of the more rural areas, those folks have reported to us and continue to report to us that they have had trouble,” says Joseph Meyers who serves as Associate State Communications Director for AARP South Carolina.

With some stuck at home unable to travel to vaccine clinics, another challenge has presented itself. The problem, providers finding the best way to get the vaccine to communities and the homes of those who need it most.

“And we have deployed our community paramedic into the community to do some vaccines at home and to also serve our homeless population,” says Biondi.

Officials with Roper St. Francis say the hospital is rolling out a program to administer shots inside households, evaluating each individual on a case-by-case basis.

“And when we identify those barriers to care, we look at those individually because everyone is different,” says Biondi.

Roper St. Francis isn’t the only provider taking the vaccine to front doors to those in need. Meyers says AARP South Carolina is working on a full-scale vaccine rollout on wheels.

“We’re both advocating for and trying to put together mobile units for vaccinations,” says Meyers.

And while vaccines to doorsteps is still a work in progress, officials say the best option for those in search of a vaccine is to call them if you face any difficulties.

“We want people to feel comfortable to call us and ask us those questions and talk to the experts,” says Biondi. “If there’s a barrier to you getting it, we’re going to try and knock that barrier down.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has also been working on a homebound vaccine program. A pilot of the program rolled out last month in Jasper and Hampton counties. Officials say the plan is to expand it to other communities across the state soon.

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