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DHEC works to add phone operators as SC seniors face challenges on first day of vaccine scheduling

DHEC said it received more than 5,000 calls in the morning alone, almost as much as they see in an entire week, leading to technical issues.

SUMTER, S.C. — A day of excitement turned to one of frustration for many South Carolina seniors hoping to get scheduled for the vaccine.

Dorothy Maple of Sumter said she spent hours trying to get an appointment on the State Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) website.

“I tried to maneuver the map, it told me not taking appointments. I did get Camden, and Camden sent me an email back, but they said they were only taking Camden and Lee county,” Maple said. “I tried Manning, I tried Providence, and I have not gotten an email back from any of those, so then I went to the number and of course the number crashed.”

RELATED: How to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for those age 70 and older in South Carolina

DHEC said it received more than 5,000 calls in the morning alone, almost as much as they see in an entire week, leading to technical issues.

“This overwhelming call volume initially created technical issues with the phone system which is in the process of being corrected,” Dr. Brannon Traxler with DHEC said. “We are working to expand the capacity of our care line and, as of this morning, have contracted a vendor to double the number of dedicated call center operators.”

RELATED: Almost 4,700 new COVID-19 cases as DHEC continues to struggle with systems issues

As for the locations, the agency said availability can change daily and more facilities are expected in the coming days.

“However, we want to help set expectations on getting an appointment soon. It’s important to understand that the flow of vaccine is a trickle into our state right now from the federal government,” Traxler said. “Also, many of the appointments in the close term, in the coming weeks have already been booked by people in 1a, particularly those health care providers.”

Maple said she’s just hoping the process will get easier.

“I want to see my grandchildren. I want to see my children. Not just that, I want to see people,” Maple said. “We need to set up something that is more convenient for our seniors. We are seniors, we shouldn’t have to run all over the county or the state to get a vaccine.”

To find a vaccination location near you visit DHEC's website or call the DHEC care line at 1-855-472-3432.