AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Aiken Regional Medical Centers has administered 866 COVID-19 vaccinations to hospital employees and eligible Phase 1A community members as of January 18, 2021. There are currently 1,288 people scheduled for vaccine clinics through the end of January, officials say.
On Sunday, January 17, 2021, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control provided Updated Guidance for Vaccine Providers stating, “Because vaccine demand has now far exceeded supply, DHEC is finalizing an equitable model for vaccine allocations.” Additionally, “While providers should prepare for increased capacity, no large-scale vaccination events should be held that would exceed a provider’s baseline allocation (established the week of January 25) without first consulting with DHEC to ensure sufficient doses would be available. It is unlikely providers could hold large-scale events until the state’s weekly allocations from the federal government increase.”
“We are confident SCDHEC will distribute the necessary vaccines to fulfill the scheduled upcoming vaccine appointments,” said Jim O’Loughlin, chief executive officer at Aiken Regional Medical Centers. “Although the current COVID-19 vaccine supply may not immediately meet our community’s demand, the health and safety of our community remains a top priority and our hospital continues to observe increased safety precautions. While the new COVID-19 Vaccine offers hope to our community and is a necessary step toward herd immunity, we must continue to do our part to slow the spread of the virus as we await an increase in vaccine allocations. We encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth, avoid large group gatherings, social distance and practice good hand hygiene.”
Pending vaccine availability from SCDHEC, Aiken Regional has been in discussion with community partners, which includes University of South Carolina Aiken, regarding offering community vaccine clinics, and information will be forthcoming. “We are in continued discussion so our teams will be prepared and ready to offer the vaccine to the community when it becomes more widely available,” said O’Loughlin. “Once federal allocation is increased and additional vaccines become available, we will be able to create additional appointments and clinics.”
Aiken Regional follows all protocols and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations related to administering the new COVID-19 vaccine to those outlined in the current phase, as directed by SCDHEC. Distribution is following a phased approach to ensure those who are healthcare workers and at highest risk receive the vaccine first.
Aiken Regional will continue to work closely with SCDHEC, Aiken County Health Department, and the CDC to evaluate and treat patients and follow appropriate protocols.