COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) held a media briefing on Wednesday and discussed time frames when people need to receive the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, along with efforts to help improve the process of scheduling appointments.
Brice Donaldson and his wife got the Pfizer vaccine this week. They received their first dose at the Prisma Health Drive-Thru near Williams-Brice Stadium.
One issue they've had, including many other people in the state, is securing the second dose appointment at the right time frame.
"Been kind of hair raising for me," said Donaldson. "I was afraid I would have to go through this all over again... they told me four days on either side of February the 9th and so I was anxious that I might not schedule it in that time frame."
Fortunately for Donaldson, he was able to lock in his second appointment. He's still trying to secure the second dose for his wife.
With many people across the Palmetto State having trouble finding second appointments, some are concerned when an appointment might be scheduled to early or too late.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the Interim Public Health Director, says people should schedule their second dose no later than when they're getting their first dose.
If people don't already have a second dose appointment set up yet, they should reach out to their provider who gave you the first dose to get an appointment schedule if it's not available in VAMS.
"You can get these second doses anywhere from four days before that recommended interval, so either that's 17 days would be the minimum days that had passed since your Pfizer first dose. It will be 24 days for your Moderna since your Moderna first dose" said Dr. Traxler. "There is not, at this time, a known cap basically on when you can get that second dose. But we do strongly recommend that everyone get as close as they can to that 21 or 28 days and really, really recommend that people go and get it within certainly a week at most to up that point."
Many people have also had a hard time scheduling appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Some have said the VAMS system is too difficult to navigate.
"I understand scheduling an appointment but it ought to be simpler than the VAMS system that they're using now," said Donaldson. "I don't what that might be, I don't have the answer, but it should be a whole lot easier."
To make it clear, DHEC doesn't schedule vaccination appointments. Providers are the ones who handle it.
Dr. Traxler said in Wednesday's media briefing, there may be something on the way that may be helpful.
"Our IT team continues to make great strides in the development of a one-stop shop appointment scheduling program for COVID-19 vaccines in the state," explained Dr. Traxler. "This is being developed to make scheduling appointments more streamlined and easier, especially for older populations or those even without internet or computer access."
Dr. Traxler says they'll continue to provide updates as they finish the project in the upcoming days.