DHEC, Partners Work to Increase Access to COVID-19 Vaccines in Rural Communities
Additional doses going to providers who serve our rural communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 5, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C.—The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is working with partners to provide increased access to COVID-19 vaccines in rural and other communities with unmet needs or poor access to care. To support this effort, DHEC announced today that it is focusing additional doses on providers who reach our rural communities.
“South Carolina recognizes the importance of reaching our vulnerable communities, including our rural and underserved communities, and people of color,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “Together, with our providers and community partners, our state is committed to using different approaches to ensure doses are getting in the arms of our most vulnerable and underserved citizens.”
Late last week, the state learned it will receive 10,000 more weekly first-round doses of the Moderna vaccine over the next three weeks. That first shipment began this week. For now, the number of first-round Pfizer vaccine doses is not expected to change.
“While modest in number, the small increase in first-round COVID-19 vaccine doses will help further South Carolina’s efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible,” Dr. Bell said. “By working with our partners, we continue to remain focused on maximizing the limited supplies of vaccines we have to reach all corners and all communities across our state.”
Reaching Communities with the Most Need
South Carolina recognizes the importance of reaching all communities, including our rural communities, those that lack needed medical and other services, and people of color. Together, with our providers and community partners, our state will use different ways to ensure doses are getting in the arms of people who are at higher risk of disease, live in areas without many resources or access to care or otherwise have unmet needs.
South Carolina has taken the following steps to address inequities and reduce the burden on our vulnerable communities:
- Ensuring vaccines are provided to our rural practices and Federally Quality Health Centers (FQHCs) in our rural communities.
- Continuing to offer vaccinations at clinic events across the state through DHEC’s local health departments or other locations, many of which are in mostly rural counties. To date, DHEC has given 12,616 vaccinations at 104 clinic events across the state. Of those, 6,474 vaccinations have been provided at 56 events in our mostly rural counties. DHEC’s local health departments also serve as regional hubs to help connect hospitals and providers at the local level.
- Working to get mobile units, more DHEC clinics, and other providers into our state’s rural and underserved communities who are often hardest hit by this disease.
- Providing to vaccine providers more of the supplies needed to give shots that did not come in the federal government kits. These supplies include things such as gloves, Band-Aids, face shields, alcohol preps, etc.
In addition, DHEC is working to staff up as many as 46 teams that would be deployed to maximize availability of COVID-19 vaccinations across the state.
DHEC will continue to monitor to ensure that South Carolina receives every dose of vaccine allocated to the state and gets both doses into people’s arms who want to be vaccinated.
Not sure if you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine? Go to scdhec.gov/vaxfacts.