COLUMBIA, S.C. — A bill that puts over $200 million dollars into COVID-19 related expenses quickly passed through the State House and was signed into law by Governor McMaster Friday.
"The dollars are in place for this, so the goal is to speed the process up," explained Representative J. Gary Simrill. "If you noticed early on, we had vaccines that had not been administered, we never want that. We want to administer as many vaccines as we get in, but we have moved up rapidly since the signing of this bill and we want to keep this going."
Simrill is second vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which introduced the bill.
Now that it’s in effect, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and other vaccine providers are getting funds to help with vaccine roll out.
"It’s obviously expensive whether you have to lease a space, the staff, everything that goes in there obviously becomes an expense and this just allows that to go in an expeditious manner," Simrill said.
DHEC gets $63 million, MUSC gets $45 million, $75 million is reserved for hospitals that administer vaccines and $25 million will go to other smaller vaccine providers.
Expenses can include staffing, facility rentals, PPE, mobile health units, marketing campaigns for the vaccine, coronavirus testing, contact tracing and much more.
DHEC told News19 they’ll use the funds to bring, “vaccine clinics to rural and under-served areas as more vaccine becomes available. This includes building as many as 46 teams that would be deployed to maximize availability of COVID-19 vaccinations across the state.”
The funds help the vaccination process greatly, but one major thing is missing: More doses from the federal government.
Simrill said lawmakers and health officials are working with the federal government to make sure South Carolina receives an increase in dose allocations soon.
According to DHEC, South Carolina has received over a million vaccine doses so far and has administered almost 800,000 of them.