By Senator Kent Williams
The Senate began discussions on a bill that would spend $208M from the state’s Contingency Reserve Fund in order to accelerate the distribution of COVID vaccinations. These funds can be used for costs related to COVID-19 such as vaccination, continued testing and contact tracing, personal protective equipment and medical supplies, personnel costs, education and marketing campaigns, quarantine, transportation and storage, and mobile health units.
As currently written, $100 million of the Contingency Reserve Fund appropriation will be deposited in a COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account. Funds from this account will be used to pay for administering COVID-19 vaccines, addressing costs associated with such issues as staffing, security, traffic control, storage, transportation, and mobile health units. Of these reserve account funds, up to $75 million is allocated to hospitals and up to $25 million is allocated to other COVID-19 vaccination providers that are enrolled and activated by DHEC.
In order to ensure that vaccines are administered as rapidly as possible, the bill provides that all vaccines received by the state must be allocated to the four DHEC public health regions. These allocations must be done in a per capita manner with considerations taken into account for such factors as poverty level, infection rates, age, and high-risk populations. MUSC will coordinate with DHEC and partner with local healthcare providers to ensure that gaps in statewide vaccination delivery are covered, with priority given to rural and underserved areas.
The bill also includes temporary authority for a wide array of health care professionals to administer COVID-19 vaccines. This includes retired physicians and nurses, students at medical school and nursing schools, as well as licensed dentists and optometrists who have completed COVID-19 vaccine training. These temporary exemptions will terminate when South Carolina is no longer under a declared public health emergency concerning COVID-19.
The Senate will continue to discuss this bill. I am hopeful that it will be passed in a timely manner.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues.
Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] scsenate.gov.
My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.
By Senator Kent Williams