As South Carolina prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines into the state, the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) helped advise DHEC on ways to ensure the safe, equitable and ethical distribution of vaccines.
The VAC, which is made up of people who represent various sectors of our state’s diverse population, offered evidence-based approaches aimed at making sure those at most risk of getting the virus or falling very ill and dying were vaccinated first. The committee followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) as it made its recommendations to DHEC.
Laying a Strong Foundation for the Fair, Equitable and Ethical Roll Out of Vaccines
The VAC’s credible and dedicated work laid a solid foundation for the many considerations South Carolina needs to take into account as it continues to roll out the vaccines. As South Carolina moves in the direction of making decisions based on vaccine supply, utilization and identified community needs, the VAC will no longer receive and review requests for prioritization of individual businesses or employee types into the various phases of distribution.
Transition to Help Build a Culture of Trust and Awareness
Instead the VAC will focus more on helping build trust, awareness and buy-in among the various populations and communities they serve across South Carolina. In effect, VAC members will become champions for their communities who will communicate critical messages to those they represent, provide meaningful feedback regarding how the vaccine rollout is progressing, and inform DHEC of gaps that might exist in reaching the communities they serve.
To advise DHEC of a fair, equitable and evidence-based approach to prioritizing critical population groups among those defined by CDC for initial receipt of vaccine; to maximize access to COVID-19 vaccine for each person in SC; and to assist in developing communication strategies so all understand the value to self and others of being vaccinated.
Guiding Ethical Principles:
- To achieve initial COVID-19 vaccination for the benefit of people and populations most at risk for viral exposure, virus transmission, and for severe illness and death from infection.
- To recommend a fair process for prioritization of vaccine recipients of available vaccine supplies.
- To recommend strategies to reach all relevant populations with clear, consistent and transparent communications about vaccine safety, effectiveness, and availability.
- To promote stewardship of available COVID-19 vaccine resources that is proportional to the risk and needs of specific populations and communities.
The VAC began meeting on September 30, 2020, and held its last meeting on March 3, 2021.
- March 3, 20201 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
- February 17, 2021 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
- February 3, 2021 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
- January 20, 2021 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
- January 13, 20201 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
- January 6, 20201 VAC Meeting Recording - (YouTube)
The VAC helps take federal vaccine guidance and adapt it specifically to South Carolina. In addition to helping finalize our state's vaccine plan and vaccination phases, the committee discusses ways to promote community awareness and engagement and assists in developing vaccine communication messaging and dissemination. It is vital to develop credible, compelling and culturally competent messaging to reach targeted populations as well as speak to those who might be hesitant about vaccines. The VAC has provided critical input on vaccine allocation planning in South Carolina and focus group feedback on vaccine hesitancy.
The VAC includes individuals representing:
Health Care and Vaccine providers
- SC Chapter American Academy of Family Physicians
- SC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- SC Office of Rural Health
- SC Pharmacy Association
- SC Primary Health Care Association
- SC Medical Association
- SC Hospital Association
- USC/Prisma Infectious Disease and Clinical Treatment Advisory Group
- SC Health Care Association
- SC Department of Corrections
- AARP South Carolina
- SC PASOS and Community Health Worker Institute – Arnold School of Public Health
- SC Christian Action Council
- SC HIV Planning Council’s – Positivity Advocacy Committee
- SC Developmental Disabilities Council
- SC Commission for Minority Affairs
- Able South Carolina
- Catawba Indian Nation
- Urban League
Policy and Planning
- Department of Commerce
- SC Independent Colleges and Universities
- SC Department of Education
Health Care Coverage
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- SC Department of Health and Human Services
- DHEC State Epidemiologist (Committee Chair)
- DHEC Assistant State Epidemiologist
- DHEC Immunization Division Director/Agency Coordination Center
- DHEC ACC Immunization Branch Coordinator
- DHEC Community Health Services and Health Equity
- DHEC Population Health and Bioethics