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Oversight committee created to review COVID-19 vaccine rollout

SC lawmakers created a committee to address concerns surrounding the state vaccine distribution plan.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina lawmakers are getting involved with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process in hopes of making it faster. Legislatures want to address problems and find solutions for the roll out.

"Quite frankly, where we are today is unacceptable," Representative Weston Newton said.

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Rep. Newton (R - Beaufort) said he receives phone calls from people he serves frequently who are confused about the vaccine process and are unable to sign up to get their shot.

"We need to help break through some of that misinformation, but also to identify where the log jam is," Newton said. "What is the problem or what are the problems and what are the solutions to resolve those problems."

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In hopes of finding a solution, Chairman Newton along with House Speaker Jay Lucas formed a legislative oversight ad hoc committee made up of eight members from around the state.

Their task will be to review the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC) distribution of the vaccine.

"This is an opportunity, if you will, to bring in DHEC as well as other potential agency partners within the state in a transparent way to provide timely communication to the public, and hopefully restore the public's confidence and trust in the system to hopefully be able to deliver them timely vaccines," Newton said.

Newton said the main mission is to ask DHEC what their challenges are and help improve roll out with solutions to problems.  

"What it is we need to do for South Carolina to be a model in the roll out and distribution of vaccines not the poster child of how to do it wrong," Newton said.

The committee will meet January 21 at 10:00 a.m.

In response to the committee, DHEC said in part:

"DHEC looks forward to continued opportunities to discuss the state’s vaccine rollout and implementation of the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Plan. As states across the nation work to address the ongoing challenges attributed to limited vaccine supply, DHEC leadership and public health officials will continue to work with our state’s elected officials and others to help ensure the vaccine doses our state has are administered to South Carolinians as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Our number one goal remains to prevent additional deaths during this unprecedented pandemic and to protect the health and wellbeing of all South Carolinians."