DHEC points to study ranking South Carolina as 10th for COVID vaccine use, CDC data differs. Here’s why.


COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — DHEC pointed to a new national report on Wednesday showing South Carolina ranks among the top in the nation for how quickly the state is getting COVID-19 vaccine doses into people’s arms. 

Becker’s Hospital Review, a national healthcare information forum, has released its “States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered” and South Carolina is ranked 10th for administering more than 61% of the doses received.

However, data from the Centers for Disease Control shows South Carolina ranks last in vaccine roll-out. South Carolina has the lowest number of vaccines distributed per capita with 10,648 doses per 100,000 residents. By comparison, North Carolina has distributed 13,323 doses per 100,000 residents and Georgia has distributed 13,303.

South Carolina also ranks 41st in the country in vaccines administered per capita, according to the CDC data. So far, the state has vaccinated 6,351 per 100,000 residents. Alaska and West Virginia lead the nation in vaccines administered. West Virginia has vaccinated 11,993 per 100,000 residents.

Note: Vaccines distributed in CDC data means the number of vaccines the state was allotted from the federal government while vaccines administered is how many they’ve given to people.

The Becker’s report uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide a uniform comparison of vaccine usage among states. It shows the rate at which doses are used based on the total number of shots given out of total doses received.

According to DHEC, the CDC had indicated South Carolina was among one of the lowest states for rates of doses distributed and of shots given per 100,000 people, but that reporting failed to include the more than 200,000 doses South Carolina has dedicated in lump-sum to a statewide effort for vaccinating every long-term care facility resident and staff member in the state. The CDC’s Data Tracker does not calculate a utilization rate showing the doses administered relative to doses distributed.

The manner in which Becker’s report shows the rate of vaccine use is a much better way to report vaccine utilization, especially when drawing comparisons between states, DHEC reported.

“We continue to make great progress in our vaccine rollout across South Carolina and the biggest challenge has been and continues to be the limited doses of vaccine available,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “All states are dealing with the challenges of ensuring every drop of vaccine is administered to those most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

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