AARP Protest DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Population Distribution Plan



ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) AARP South Carolina voicing concerns over DHEC’s decision to base vaccine distribution on community population size rather than prioritizing older residents or at risk groups.

They shared new disparities, they say show various groups have greater risk of contracting COVID but less access to healthcare — including seniors, low income communities and communities of color.

Social Determinates of Health, a term used by the CDC to describe “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes…” is something AARP of South Carolina believes is stifling some groups ability to access the COVID-19 vaccine.

Teresa Arnold, State Director, AARP South Carolina, says, “That’s why we were so concerned with the DHEC boards decision last week to go on a population only basis for vaccine distribution….We are asking legislators to direct DHEC to look at vulnerable populations.”

That DHEC board decision was population based verses demographically based — in planning for COVID vaccine distribution. In our state AARP has more than 600,000 members over 50, at greatest risk during the pandemic.

Sue Veers, President/CEO, Carolina Health Centers Inc., says, “The idea the only way that we’re going to get shots in arms when we’re dealing with the distribution strategy, is to be able to tailor your allocation to number one the people in that phase and the number to the people that have the greatest risk and the least access otherwise.”

Studies have shown that older and more vulnerable groups make up more than 90% of COVID-19 deaths, another reason why AARP South Carolina wants to get those groups vaccinated first. Those vulnerable groups have been put at another disadvantage, signing up for the vaccine, some thing that the city of Rock Hill hopes to remedies soon — including internet access and understanding.

Katie Quinn, with the City of Rock Hill, says, “That’s (internet) definitely a barrier at this point when signing up to receive a vaccine. It’s our hope that going forward that DHEC will hopefully figure out a better system to make things more accessible for the time being, we are really relying on faith-based partnerships to help folks like that.”

The City is currently working with non-profits who are willing to open computer and internet access to the public and help them get registered.

“I think for us, it’s a matter of whatever the processes that’s in place, to be sure that it is equitable and that every person who is eligible has the opportunity,” says Quinn.

In the video above, CN2’s Rachel Richardson tells us more about AARP’s concerns and what the City of Rock Hill is doing to make sure everyone has access.

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