COLUMBIA, S.C. — From rural access to insurance and misinformation, addressing how to get the most South Carolinians vaccinated against the coronavirus is no easy task.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Vaccine Advisory Committee is taking on the challenge with state and local leaders from a range of agencies applying their expertise to try to get everyone access sooner.
On Wednesday they discussed the challenge of reaching those who don’t speak English and continuing to work toward a more simplified way for seniors to access care.
“While a web-based approach is great, there are folks that just don’t have access to the web,” Stephen Boucher, one of the speakers, said. “DHEC has taken steps to increase their call center capacity, but that needs to be done with acceptable response times, and then we need to find for the disabled population, which has been brought up, alternative means of communicating these messages for those who can’t use the phone or web-based approach.”
Other topics included care for the homeless and their staff, minority access to vaccines, and giving health care providers enough advance notice when a new group is added to the vaccination eligibility list.
“Really appreciate the comment from.. the S.C. Hospital Association about these significant changes in including additional groups in phases and not a lot of time to plan for that. It’s happening to us too at DHEC,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “As we open up more and more groups without opening up supply it does offer the benefit of at least giving additional individuals a foot in the door, but it does not create more appointments, it does not create more vaccine and so we will continue to look strategically at putting doses where we have equitable access, geographic coverage and paying attention to the data that tells us who's most vulnerable.”
Bell added that DHEC will be taking the information learned to work toward improvements going forward, and plans to meet with the committee again in the coming weeks.