SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Wednesday was the first day that any South Carolinian–age 70 and above–could start scheduling an appointment to get the COVID vaccine. But the process didn’t quite go off without a hitch.
An almost-instant hang-up is what a lot of South Carolinians heard as they called and tried to get more information about scheduling an appointment.
“This morning, we had more than 5,000 people calling into our Care Line at once,” SCDHEC’s Interim Director of Public Heath Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “Just to put that in perspective, that is just shy of the total number of calls that they handle for us in an average week–the entire week.”
Dr. Brannon Traxler with DHEC told 7 News it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“This is good news and it does show that the level of interest of South Carolinians to do their part by getting vaccinated is high,” she said.
And while DHEC expects the high call volume and wait time to continue, Dr. Traxler said the technical issues are in the process of being corrected.
“We are working to expand the capacity of our Care Line and, as of this morning, have contracted with a vendor to double the number of dedicated call center operators to respond to these unprecedented, never-seen-before call volumes,” she said.
Right now, DHEC says South Carolina has a limited supply of the vaccine and, therefore, the number of providers offering the vaccine is also limited.
“We get roughly 60,000 doses a week for the entire state. Yet, we estimate there to be about 10 times more people than that who are 70 years old and older in South Carolina,” Traxler said.
Health officials want you to keep in mind that some locations that are offering the vaccine may not have an available appointment for you for several weeks.
In fact, based on the vaccination locater map on DHEC’s website, there are only a handful of locations in the Upstate that are currently accepting appointments.
“It’s important to understand that the flow of vaccine is a trickle into our state from the federal government,” Traxler said.
DHEC told 7 News that the state receives weekly shipments of the vaccine from the federal government, typically, at the beginning of each week; and they are working to get doses to different providers as quickly as possible–including those in more rural and under-served communities.
“We ask all South Carolinians to please be patient as we work to make certain that the limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that are available in our state are provided first and foremost to the most vulnerable against this deadly virus,” Dr. Traxler said.
For more information on what locations in our area are offering the vaccine, click here.
Because of the vaccine rollout, and the high demand for it, DHEC is now looking to hire at least 150 people who can help in administering the vaccine.
They’re calling on all qualified nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, and others to apply. If you’re interested, click here.