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DHEC new ‘one-stop shop’ vaccine scheduling service to come online as early as this week

A new direct vaccine scheduling system and phone line are expected to be unveiled by DHEC in the coming days.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A new direct vaccine scheduling system is expected to be unveiled by the State Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in the coming days, after many found the current process confusing with too many steps.

There aren’t many details yet, but the agency did share a little about what the program could look like during a series of press conferences last week.

“This is being developed to make scheduling appointments more streamlined and easier for especially for older population or those even without internet or computer access,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Director of Public Health, said last Wednesday.

The current vaccine sign-up process can differ, but usually starts with finding an available provider and registering with them online.

RELATED: How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in South Carolina if you're over 70

Next, wait 24-48 hours for an email with a link to the federal Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS, create an account, complete an online questionnaire, and then schedule an appointment.

In the new system, it’s possible that, “people can go in then and schedule their vaccination appointments directly rather than having to potentially sign up through a portal and then get an email back from CDC, VAMS, and then schedule their appointment,” Dr. Traxler said last Monday. “This will be a more direct and faster route."

RELATED: State, National Guard assisting with DHEC care line to hasten response time

The agency is also expecting to release a new vaccine-only call line.

“We're working to have more than 100 call agents for that line that will be only dedicated to providing vaccine information to the public,” Dr. Traxler said last Friday.

Richland County Councilwoman Gretchen Barron has been working to help eligible seniors schedule for the vaccine. The change, she said, is welcome.

RELATED: SC seniors line up for support after challenging start to vaccine registration

Credit: Kayland Hagwood, Zoom
Richland County Councilwoman Gretchen Barron

“Having the challenge already of not being as tech savvy as some of the rest of us, and then once they get that device in their hand, ‘where do I go?’, Councilwoman Barron said. “There are better days ahead and if they can figure that out, I think that we would be ecstatic to be able to report that hey, this is how you can do it, one-stop shop."

According to Dr. Traxler, the agency is finalizing details with its IT department and will provide more specifics before the programs go live.