Lowcountry medical providers preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccine

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BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – Many medical workers and regular people in the Lowcountry are wondering if and when they’ll get the vaccine themselves.

As News 3 found out, many medical providers are still working on the details themselves.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has cleared 56 sites in the state to get 43,000 doses of the vaccine for emergency distribution as soon as later this week.

Everyone who gets the vaccine with have two different shots administered 21 days apart.

Health officials from DHEC say those medical workers, first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities are first on the list.

By the end of the year DHEC says close to 300,000 doses will be given in the state.

When it comes to the Lowcountry, all three hospitals, Beaufort Memorial, Hilton Head Regional, and Coastal Carolina tell News 3 they are 3 of the 56 sites identified by state officials to get the first round and have their facilities ready to accept the vaccine. It has to be kept at ultracold temperatures.

But when asked when, or how many doses are coming to our area, none of those facilities had an exact answer.

Emails from both hospital groups said each plan to administer doses to their own staff, and that staff will get notified by the hospitals themselves.

But both say they don’t know how many doses they will receive, and they will “not” be publishing any shipment schedules.

Hilton Head Regional says it also “hopes to immunize all healthcare workers in high-risk areas in the first few weeks of immunization.”

As for when you, the public, may be able to get the vaccine, that also is still a fluid situation.

Health care officials say once Phase 1 is finished they will have a better understanding of the need and want for the vaccine.

But expect that any doses for the general public won’t be available in the state until Spring or early Summer at the earliest.

Here is the statement response to your inquiry from Hilton Head Regional Healthcare:

We are working with our state and local leaders on plans to receive the vaccine as soon as it is available, and will be vaccinating eligible members of our staff in accordance with FDA, CDC, state, and local guidelines. We are hopeful that we will be able to immunize all healthcare workers working in areas that are high risk for COVID exposure in the first few weeks of immunizations. The most effective safety measures we can take against COVID-19 continues to be wearing a mask, washing our hands, and maintaining social distance.”

From Beaufort Memorial president & CEO Russell Baxley:

Q. Are we (BMH) getting vaccines?
A. Yes, BMH will be receiving vaccines eventually.

Q. Does the hospital have the equipment to safely store the vaccines?
A. Yes, we have received and installed the necessary equipment.

Q. Do you have any information about when you will receive the vaccines?
A. We will receive them soon, but will not disclose details about shipment schedules.

Q. How many vaccines will local hospitals receive?
A. At this time we do not know the exact number of vaccines we will receive.

Q. How many vaccines will be provided to frontline workers?
A. As has been widely recommended by state and national health leaders, frontline workers and first responders will be among the first people to receive vaccinations.

Q. What is the timeline for receiving additional shipments of vaccines?
A. We do not have a timeline for future shipments.

Q. When can members of the general public expect to receive the vaccine?
A. According to national health leaders and vaccine manufacturers, the vaccine will not be widely available to the general public until late spring or early summer.

Q. What will be the process for distributing the vaccines?
A. The process will be managed through a national portal whereby individuals will register to receive the vaccine. Our understanding is that the portal will issue reminders to ensure that recipients receive their second dose, and will issue certificates to verify inoculation.

Q. How is BMH preparing to roll out vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers?
A. We will work internally to schedule times for each healthcare worker that wants a vaccine to receive a vaccine. Communication will go out to employees on how and where to receive the vaccine. Those details are not available as of now but will be released internally as they are available.

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