Grand Strand hospitals try to balance vaccine demand with rising coronavirus cases


CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – South Carolina hospitals are trying to keep up with the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, as all seniors 70 years old or older become eligible to take it.

Seniors looking to get the vaccine rushed to make appointments with Conway Medical Center (CMC) on Wednesday. CMC says it booked as many shots as it could in the couple hours appointments could be made.

The hospital says it received thousands of requests from seniors wanting the vaccine.

“There seems to be a pretty large demand out there for it,” said CMC spokesperson Allyson Floyd. “We have requested additional supplies of the vaccine, so we would have dosing available. What we get is what we can give.”

CMC says it’s trying to balance getting the vaccine out as much as it can, while healthcare workers continue fighting the surging spread of the virus.

“At the same time, we’re dealing with near-record COVID levels, both hospitalized patients and positives out in the community,” Floyd said. “They’re trying to handle both sides of this.”

The South Carolina Hospital Association says it may take several weeks between scheduling an appointment and actually receiving a dose.

CMC says it will book more vaccinations as soon as it knows how many doses it will receive from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

“We do ask for people’s patience as we move forward, for them to understand that this is a huge undertaking for us to be able to provide it in both an efficient manner and a safe manner,” Floyd said.

Meanwhile in Myrtle Beach, Mayor Brenda Bethune says she’s speaking with healthcare providers about having large vaccine events in the city, possibly at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

“We are exploring those options,” said Mayor Bethune. “We want to be a partner with the health community and to help get the vaccination out quicker if we can.”

Seniors are the final group of phase 1a of the state’s vaccine rollout. The next phase is for many frontline essential workers.

DHEC is expecting phase 1b will begin later this winter.

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