Self Regional Healthcare is offering a new way for people to sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online via email.
At selfregional.org/covid-vaccine-request-form/, people can go online, provide some information about themselves and submit a request for a vaccination. People are asked not to submit the form multiple times. Today, from 9 a.m.-noon, Self’s hotline for scheduling a vaccine appointment will be open. To call, dial 864-725-3555.
“We had a lot of frustration with the call-ins last week,” said Jim Pfeiffer, Self president and CEO. “We wanted to add this option to our available tools.”
Pfeiffer said submitting the online form doesn’t guarantee a vaccine, but it does provide the person’s information to Self so when vaccine supplies are available, they can contact the person to schedule an appointment.
Vaccine supply remains the biggest bottleneck to distribution, said Self’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Logan. Every Tuesday, Self puts in a request for vaccines for the following week. Now, he said the hospital is receiving fewer vaccines intended for new appointments than previously, with the focus being on getting second doses administered to people who have already had their first shots.
“We try to gauge the amount of vaccines we will have to administer the following week,” Logan said. “Our big limit right now is the amount of vaccines we are receiving.”
South Carolina has been receiving about 63,000 doses per week in January, and this week 975 new doses were allocated to Self, along with a shipment of second doses intended for people who already had their first shots.
“We’re really not sure where that number is going to settle out yet, but we’re told it’s going to get more consistent as more vaccination sites get up and running,” Logan said.
Pfeiffer said Gov. Henry McMaster made clear to hospitals to focus on administering the vaccines on hand and not to worry about their next allocations. Pfeiffer said hospitals have been asked to clear out the supply they have with the assumption they’ll get more when they run out.
“But the problem is we don’t know what that number will be, it keeps changing and it has gone down,” he said.
Following today’s appointment scheduling period, Pfeiffer said hospital staff will be reviewing and evaluating the entire sign-up process to find out what multiple methods work best and provide access for people with limited internet availability.
Within the hospital, Pfeiffer said the number of people getting treated for COVID-19 is going down. There were 68 positive patients in the hospital Wednesday morning, down from a peak in the 80s last week.
“Every day is a challenge, and we have to look at staffing and placing people in appropriate settings,” Pfeiffer said. “Until we’ve vaccinated enough people, people still need to be practicing preventative measures like wearing masks, washing their hands and practicing social distancing.