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VAMS is slowing down vaccination efforts in SC, doctor says

DHEC requires providers to use the vaccine management system (VAMS) created by the CDC.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hospitals are speeding up COVID-19 vaccination efforts, but one thing that’s holding them back is the Vaccine Administration Management System, according to an MUSC doctor. 

VAMS, created by the Center for Disease Control, is intended to help patients schedule appointments to get the coronavirus vaccine and it also allows healthcare providers to document their allocations and remaining doses.

However, some South Carolina hospitals like MUSC are stepping away from VAMS and using their own appointment scheduling software because it's more user-friendly. 

"It’s all well intended, but it is a brand-new system in the middle of a pandemic," said Chief Quality Officer at MUSC, Dr. Danielle Scheurer.

DHEC requires healthcare providers to use the documentation aspect of VAMS, but the process is slowing down vaccination efforts, said Scheurer.  

"That part is extremely difficult and very time consuming," Scheurer explained. "On average, we’re vaccinating 3,000 to 4,000 patients a day, and it takes us at least a minute per patient. So, that really adds up to several full-time people sitting in cubicles just doing documentation in VAMS."

RELATED: Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital's walk-up, same day vaccination process

 Scheurer said she'd rather have those people help with administering shots. She added that South Carolina is one of only nine states using VAMS. 

Instead, she'd rather DHEC transfer all vaccine documentation to the state’s already existing system called SIMON.

"The beauty of SIMON is it’s bidirectional, so not only can we auto-submit all the information, but then we can also see who has already received a COVID vaccine; either one dose, or two doses," explained Scheurer. 

"That is the anticipated future workflow. we’re just not quite there yet but that is what we’re all trying to achieve, and it would cut down on the paper work or extra work," the doctor said.

RELATED: CVS Health to offer COVID-19 vaccines in 17 SC locations

Scheurer said MUSC already uses SIMON because it's the Statewide Immunization Online Network. So, using VAMS is an added step most other states are not doing. 

Prisma Health also announced they’re no longer using VAMS to register appointments. Instead they’re using MyChart. They tweeted Tuesday that, “the change allows [them] to more easily register patients, manage appointments and provide better technical assistance.”

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