Supermarket pharmacy joins list of vaccine sites
With the state struggling to keep up with the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, Publix announced Monday that pharmacies at 42 of its South Carolina stores, including Pawleys Island, will begin vaccinating residents on Wednesday.
Vaccines will be available to residents 70 and above, residents and staff of long-term care facilities and state and local government employees and contractors who are critical to the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. Vaccinations are free and will continue while supplies last.
People who qualify and want to be vaccinated must make an appointment in advance at publix.com/covidvaccine starting on Tuesday (Jan. 19) at 6 a.m. Appointments cannot be made by calling individual stores.
The state receives 60,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine every week. However, Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim public health director for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, said there are 10 times that many residents 70 and older who need it.
Jan. 13 was the first day that seniors could schedule an appointment to get the vaccine, and the DHEC care line received more than 5,000 calls that morning. That’s more calls than are normally received in a week, Traxler said.
There is information about appointments online at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator.
More than 15,000 requests for appointments were received by Tidelands Health on Jan. 13 by midday, according to Dawn Bryant, Tidelands’ senior communications strategist.
“We are excited to see such a tremendous response as our community works to turn a pivotal corner in the battle against COVID-19,” Bryant said.
Tidelands expects to give first doses of the vaccine to about 2,000 seniors next week.
It got help with vaccinations from the National Guard last week and is also hiring temporary workers.
Traxler said even though the federal government will be releasing more doses going forward, until more information is given, vaccine providers can only set up their schedules based on DHEC distributing 60,000 doses per week.
DHEC hopes to continue to add more vaccine providers.
One obstacle is that once the vaccine is taken out of cold storage and is at room temperature, it has a short lifespan. The Pfizer vaccine must be administered within six hours and the Moderna vaccine within 12 hours. Each vial contains multiple doses.
Finding places with the cold storage capacity is also an issue.
One week after the New Year’s holiday, the state recorded two COVID-19 milestones.
The positive test rate of 32 percent on Jan. 7 was a record, as was the 5,077 new confirmed cases on Jan. 8.
“We are all now on the front lines of COVID-19,” Traxler said. “If we don’t act now we could face many dark months ahead.”
DHEC reported 4,673 new confirmed cases and 42 more deaths on Wednesday. The state has had 332,990 confirmed cases and 5,402 deaths.
Georgetown County has 4,621 confirmed cases and 97 deaths.
Nearly 2,500 state residents are currently hospitalized with the virus. The state’s recovery rate since the start of the pandemic is 89 percent.
Update: This story has been updated from the Jan. 14 print edition.