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Update Regarding Horry County Vaccination Program

Horry County received assurances from SCDHEC that Horry County Fire Rescue is in good standing in the COVID-19 vaccination program and SCDHEC confirmed that vaccine inventory requests for the next delivery cycle could be fulfilled. As directed by SCDHEC, we opened up for public appointments using the VAMS appointment scheduling system. As a result, approximately 800 individuals meeting the Phase 1A and 1B criteria have signed up through the VAMS appointment scheduling system for first dose vaccines. 

Yesterday night, a representative of SCDHEC denied that the order for additional first doses would be placed citing “miscommunication” between SCDHEC officials. Despite indicating their commitment to making sure everyone who received a first dose would receive a second dose in future shipments, Horry County Fire Rescue has not received a shipment of vaccine from SCDHEC since February 12, 2021. 

Horry County Fire Rescue has reserved enough vaccines to administer to those that have signed up. If you are already scheduled to receive your vaccine with Horry County, you should still come to your scheduled appointment. We are also ensuring that everyone who has received a first dose with Horry County will be able to receive their second dose with us. At this point, the County has suspended appointments through the VAMS appointment scheduling system, and we do not anticipate any further doses from SCDHEC. First dose appointments with our facility will conclude on April 6, 2021 and after all of the second dose appointments have been honored, we will conclude our vaccination program.  

We remain frustrated by the lack of ability from SCDHEC to consistently communicate with vaccine providers in the state. We are not alone, and we find it necessary to speak out. We have endeavored to work cooperatively with SCDHEC, but have been thwarted at every turn. 

We remain committed to seeing that every person in Horry County that wishes to receive a shot is able to do so. We appreciate the men and women of Horry County Fire Rescue that stepped up to help their community in a time of need and have done a wonderful job administering the vaccine to first responders and the most vulnerable members of our community.



Response Regarding Horry County Vaccine Distribution

In its efforts to maintain a positive working relationship with SCDHEC as initial vaccination efforts have been ramping up across the state, Horry County Government chose to provide only a limited response to recent reporting concerning Horry County Government’s administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.  However, following weeks of working with SCDHEC to reach an appropriate and amicable joint response, including a call that we requested with their team yesterday, the misinformation being conveyed to the public by media and others has only increased, and thus Horry County feels it is imperative to provide this information directly to our community.

SCDHEC has never denied that they provided guidance to Horry County and approved the County’s vaccination plan, yet the media coverage has insinuated that the County somehow acted inappropriately by providing vaccinations outside of SCDHEC’s priority guidelines. The simple fact is that Horry County has at all times complied with SCDHEC’s guidance, and if SCDHEC was better able to satisfy its current supply challenges, we would not be having this discussion.

Horry County was not the first organization to have a similar program approved by SCDHEC, and other local providers, including medical facilities and municipalities have similarly undertaken action to provide this critical protection to their employees and others. For example, many local hospitals partnered with government organizations to provide vaccines to active members of law enforcement with the approval of SCDHEC—guidance that is now being interpreted by SCDHEC to remove law enforcement members completely from the 1A guidelines. This means these other organizations would also be non-compliant. The 1A guidance on SCDHEC’s website appears to contradict what is included in their latest email to us—this just adds to the continued confusion for all of us.

Those other organizations have not received the same level of scrutiny from SCDHEC or from local media reporting. It is time for SCDHEC to acknowledge the mismanagement and miscommunication early in the distribution process that led to these issues. SCDHEC, including those “senior officials” on our recent call, have known about this for weeks, yet did not stop providing us with doses of vaccines or ask us to change course. We were provided with an initial 3,500 doses, despite not having requested any doses at that point, and those were more than we would need to vaccinate those in the now narrowly construed 1A category—and SCDHEC knew. 

We have enough second doses for everyone who received a first dose from us and we will be administering those. We will administer the remaining supply, with new guidance from SCDHEC, to members of our community using the same VAMS software we were already utilizing. Assuming SCDHEC does not change their guidance to us again, we expect to release information to the public about how they can schedule an appointment with us in the near future.  

Horry County will adapt to the latest guidance and will continue to forge ahead, together with SCDHEC, to get our community vaccinated, but we will not apologize for doing the right thing for our employees, with the approval of SCDHEC, at a time of crisis for our entire community.

Our community matters to us. Our senior citizens matter to us. Our teachers matter to us. We stand by, ready to assist, with an efficient system for distributing vaccines to our community and we will continue to work together with SCDHEC to achieve our shared ultimate goal of vaccinating everyone in Horry County that wants a COVID-19 vaccine. 



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