We have been communicating with Vaccine Advisory Committee asking that they include age 65 and above in the next phase (1b) of the roll out. Currently, only essential workers will be in that category, pushing the older, more vulnerable group, to a much later vaccination. Our concern being that the highest hospitalization and mortality rate rests with the elderly. Our pressing concern is the high contagion rate of the new variant while will cause much greater risk to this group and overwhelm our hospitals who won't have the beds or staffing to meet their needs. Our latest response from the director of the Vaccine Advisory Committee suggests they will continue to review input from the community later this week.
Our latest letter to Dr. Jane Kelly and Senator Tom Davis is below.
LLL members willing to email their support for including the over 65 group, can send emails to VAX and Senator Davis at the following email addresses:
Vaccine Advisory Committee: ACC-VAC@dhec.sc.gov
Senator : firstname.lastname@example.org (who has been advocating for these changes)
Thank you for anything you can do to help with this effort!
Dr. Kelly / Vaccine Advisory Committee:
We appreciated your response to our input regarding the rationale for decision making re/ Phase 1b. We have read your Jan.15th DHEC recommendations for that phase. We respectfully continue to disagree with your reasoning.
Your primary goal, as stated, for 1b is preventing deaths and the best distribution of a limited vaccine. While essential workers may well be at a substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID, based on occupation,
they are not at a substantially higher risk of hospitalization and death. We believe that is is more important to place age groups of 65 and above in a higher tier, because they are the group that will most likely suffer severe
consequences with hospitalization and death.
With the newer variants expected to markedly, and detrimentally, affect the US in March, we need to pay special attention to protecting the MOST vulnerable populations who would overwhelm our hospitals. Again, that is
by virtue of age, not occupation. Furthermore, the impact on our hospital beds in our community cannot be overstated; patients with heart attacks, car accidents, cancer and other illnesses will be disproportionately affected
with inadequate capacity to address their needs. We are all familiar with the horrific scenes in the California hospitals.
We understand that people living and working in congregate settings (prisons,shelters,group homes) will likely have greater exposure, but we encourage you to review the data on mortality rates in those populations vs. mortality rates
with our elderly.
One other issue worthy of note…supply and administration in SC. We continue to have a very low administration rate of vaccine. There are obviously many infrastructure problems and likely staffing issues. We need some innovative
thinking on how to best get these shots in arms. Why are we not recruiting retired health care professionals as they are doing in FL and GA? Why are we not using Senior Centers, schools, churches, stadiums to increase access?
The current system with a call number and links to appointments have not been working well enough for many of the elderly in our community, who have not been able to schedule appointments.
We really need to adapt our thinking as to who gets the vaccine next, and how.
Thank you for this consideration.
Mary Faas APRN
Arthur A Gorman, MD