GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - One of the Upstate's largest health systems says it has plans to offer as many COVID-19 vaccinations as possible starting next week.
In a news release Thursday, Prisma Health's headline declared the system planned to provide 10,000 coronavirus vaccines each day via high-volume community vaccination sites. Prisma says the centers in Columbia and Greenville would further expand access to vaccines as more supply became available.
“We are mobilizing multiple resources across our system in order to help provide vaccines – as well as continue providing leading-edge care to patients with COVID-19 – as part of this unprecedented event, the largest vaccination process in the history of our country,” said Dr. Saria Saccocio, the chief ambulatory medical officer for Prisma Health and the co-chair of its COVID-19 vaccine task force. “We are very encouraged that so many people want to receive their vaccines.”
Prisma notes they began vaccinating patients over 70 years old who alread completed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). As of Thursday, Prisma noted they received nearly 45,000 doses of the vaccine from state health officials and has already given out 26,000 doses. Initial doses went to healthcare workers and first responders as per South Carolina state guidance.
The health system also notes their plans also include using specially-outfitted mobile health clinics to help provide vaccines to the state’s rural communities. Some new vans were likely ready by the end of February, but Prisma notes distribution depends on supply and state guidance. The system has mobilized additional resources to expand its scheduling and speed up the process for this vulnerable population, some of whom do not have access to computers.
“Please know that Prisma Health and other healthcare providers across South Carolina are working very hard on implementation details in a rapidly evolving environment,” said Saccocio. “We continue to ask for the community’s patience. Please be assured that we are moving as quickly as we can with our current vaccine supply.”
If you're eligible for the vaccine, you can click here to fill out an online form. You'll be notified to schedule an appointment directly through VAMS. This CDC system requires an individual to have a unique email account because the CDC will send an email link for the registration. No walk-ins will be allowed since a CDC VAMS registration is required in order to track the vaccination and provide the follow up for the second dose. Individuals in this 70+ age group who do not have access to a computer or who do not have an individual email account can call 833-2PRISMA (833-277-4762) for assistance. Prisma Health will also have staff available to help guide them through the process when they arrive for their appointment.
Prisma Health promised to respond to appointment requests as soon as possible. Community members are asked not to submit multiple vaccine request forms or leave multiple messages on the phone line since that will delay the process. Individual Prisma Health physician practices, pharmacies and hospitals cannot schedule people for a vaccine.
Prisma also reminds citizens that the second dose is still needed for 95% efficacy, meaning there's still a high risk of infection even after the first dose is administered. The system urges social distancing and mask-wearing, long with frequent handwashing and avoiding group gatherings.