January 29, 2021
Activity picked up this week in Columbia as many subcommittee and committee meetings continue to get bills to the House and Senate floors for voting. Since many of our priorities are in their infancy stages, there isn’t much big news yet…so I thought I would give you an update on the vaccine rollout.
This week, the House passed a vaccine relief bill that allocated $208 million to help the state expand capacity to give more people the vaccine. The funds would go to DHEC, the Medical University of South Carolina, hospitals and other providers, allowing them to purchase PPE, increase staff to give the vaccine, implement marketing campaigns, improve or purchase storage technology and cover any related costs to expand a large scale vaccine program. The legislation also calls for DHEC to allocate vaccines on a regional basis, moving away from the county system currently in place while taking into account poverty levels, infection rates, high-risk groups and age.
So where are we and who’s getting shots right now? Residents who are 70 years or older, individuals who are in long-term care facilities and staff, frontline healthcare workers and patients in hospitals who are 65 and older. In all, that’s nearly one million residents in our state that make up Phase 1.
According to DHEC, teachers, law enforcement, correction officers, grocery store workers, manufacturing employees and childcare workers will be next in line to receive the vaccine in early spring. Their hope is by late spring, those 65 and older and citizens 16-64 with certain medical conditions will be available to sign up for vaccines. Also included in this phase will be non-frontline healthcare workers, food service employees and transportation workers. Finally, in the summer and into the fall, anyone who wants the vaccine will be eligible.
Ultimately, it comes down to supply and demand. The state is doing a much better job of getting shots in arms. Yesterday, DHEC announced that SC now ranks in the top 10 nationally by percentage of vaccine administered. However, like other states, the issue is the limited supply nationally. Starting next week, SC is expected to receive a 16% increase of the Moderna vaccine, adding 10,000 doses per week.
As other vaccines come online, like the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine, and manufacturing ability increases, SC will continue to receive and administer growing numbers of vaccines. Patience is going to be key, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As always we will keep you up to date on what we know and what we are hearing. Have a great weekend.
Senior Director of Legislative Relations