Florence hospitals work to get COVID shots out as state faces limited supply

Tracking The Vaccine

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence healthcare providers administered COVID shots to lines of people Monday.

MUSC Health Florence held a mass vaccination event at the Florence Center, where officials anticipated giving out 1,500 doses.

“We’ve been on site and obviously in an area that’s pretty small, so we certainly could not have done anything to this extent,” chief nursing officer Costa Cockfield said while explaining the advantage of the mass event. “And actually it was only this past Wednesday that we decided, ‘yes we need to do this for the community.'”

Patients lined up in their cars outside, and drove into the center while being given instructions. They stayed in their car the entire time, and waited in a separate lot for 15 minutes for observation after getting a shot. Monday’s event was by appointment only.

“We need to have more of these,” Cockfield said. “We have so many people that are calling anxious to get the vaccine.”

MUSC Health does not have any other events like this firmed up, except a day for Monday’s patients to get their second dose. They’ve already booked the Florence Center Feb. 15 for that.

Meanwhile, lines of people showed up to McLeod Health across town– also wanting that coveted vaccine.

“First doses we expect to do about 350 patients today,” Lesli McGee said. McGee is the system VP of care coordination and home care services for McLeod and also the incident commander for emergency response to the pandemic. “And then second doses, we anticipate this week we’re expecting just over 3,000 to return for their second dose- so we’ll be seeing those patients all day, each day this week.”

McGee said the hospital was working to get out as many vaccines as they could to the Phase 1A group the state is currently in– which includes a variety of essential workers and people 70 and older.

McLeod began administering to the 70 plus crowd last week, and has seen high demand since.

“We have people who have presented everyday looking for the vaccine, waiting for the vaccine, hoping for their day, hoping to be able to take part in the program,” she said. “We have a considerably higher number of people seeking the vaccine than we have doses available for first doses at this point.”

McGee emphasized that those seeking their second dose should be able to get one where they got their first dose.

“For first doses, the supply is not as plentiful as we would like simply because we want to be able to vaccinate as many patients as we can that are ready for it,” McGee said. “So what we know is we are asking for considerably higher volume than what we’re getting each week.”

McLeod is not the only provider facing this issue. In a media call Monday, DHEC interim health director Dr. Brannon Traxler said vaccine supply remains the state’s biggest hurdle.

“Two weeks ago, we saw a significant increase in the amount of vaccine being requested,” she said. “Whereas the number of doses coming into the state was the same. So over the last couple weeks we’ve only been able to fulfill a portion of every facility’s orders.”

Dr. Traxler said South Carolina received between 60,000 and 64,000 first doses and a similar amount for second doses this week.

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