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MUSC says it isn't scheduling 1st vaccine doses with supply to the hospital limited

DHEC logs 718 new cases, 21 deaths

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Anna Kroninger.jpg (copy)

Anna Kroninger, a pharmacy student at the Medical University of South Carolina, gives Ben Hill of Johns Island his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine while volunteering at Liberty Doctors on James Island on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. “This vaccine is so important to so many people,” said Kroninger, who added that she wanted to show her solidarity by volunteering her time. File/Lauren Petracca/Staff

At the Medical University of South Carolina, insufficient vaccine supplies mean the Charleston hospital system isn't penciling anyone new into the appointment calendar.

"We do not have enough vaccine being received to schedule any new appointments," said Dr. Danielle Scheurer, chief quality officer for MUSC Health.

Similar issues are being reported at other South Carolina hospitals. According to data reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the amount of vaccine included in shipments this week were lower for both MUSC and Prisma Health, the largest health systems in the state, than at any point since early January.

"It's just harder to plan," Scheurer said. "We didn't expect to be getting so much less."

Scheurer said some first-dose appointments are being rescheduled so that vials can be used for second-dose appointments. The hospital isn't canceling on patients altogether, she said, but second doses have to be prioritized because patients can't wait too long after the first round. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best course is to get the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after the first. The agency has said people can wait up to six weeks if necessary, but after that period, there isn't evidence to support getting the second shot. 

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 718 confirmed, 156 probable.

Total cases in S.C.:  437,806 confirmed, 69,106 probable.

Percent positive:  6.6 percent.

New deaths reported: 21 confirmed, six probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 7,436 confirmed, 921 probable.

Percent of ICU beds filled: 73 percent.

How does S.C. rank in vaccines administered per 100,000 people?

42nd as of Feb. 22, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

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Hardest-hit areas

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville (83), Charleston (56) and Spartanburg (53) counties saw the highest totals.

What about the tri-county?

Charleston County had 56 new cases on Feb. 23, while Berkeley counted 16 and Dorchester had 14.

Deaths

All of the new confirmed deaths reported were among people age 65 and older. 

Hospitalizations

Of the 977 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Feb. 23, 232 were in the ICU and 126 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

The CDC studied a school district in Georgia over a month of in-person instruction and found teachers seemed to be more likely spreaders of the virus than students.

The finding is relevant to plans to fully reopen schools, given educators are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine while most students are not.

Researchers with the nation’s public health authority wrote it is possible to keep COVID-19 out of schools, even when the disease is spreading in the community.

The CDC and local health officials studied eight elementary schools in the same Georgia school district. In each case of COVID-19 spread, physical distancing and mask-wearing weren’t always done properly.

Lunchtime, when kids aren’t required to wear masks, was thought to be a likely culprit in the spread of the virus.

But the key finding in the research was “that educators play an important role in in-school transmission.”

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