Prisma Health updates public on vaccination progress

Press conference with officials and Greenville Mayor Knox White
Eastside Branch of Prisma Health
Eastside Branch of Prisma Health Photo credit Emily Gill

Prisma Health, along with Greenville Mayor Knox White, today held a press conference about the current COVID-19 status in the Upstate​ and vaccination progress.

Chief Executive Officer Mark O’Halla , co-lead of the health system’s vaccine task force, reported the state and the Prisma system have seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases since the holidays.

Currently, Prisma is running over a 30% positivity rate for the month of January; positivity rates refer to the percentage of people who tested positive out of the total number for that time frame  who were tested for the virus.  On Monday of this week, the positivity rate reached 40%, a far cry from the ultimate goal of 5% or less.

O'Halla further reported that 350 of members of the Prisma Health team are currently sick with COVID-19.  Of those 350 people, 180 of them are clinical workers.  To address this gap in staffing, agency staff and travelers have been brought in for the meantime.

On January 18, the COVID-19 step down unit in Laurens will open.  This will house patients who are still sick with the novel coronavirus and not ready to go home but have passed the acute phase of illness.  Prisma hopes this will free up other beds to take care of new COVID patients.

As for vaccinations, O'Halla reports Prisma received their first shipment on December 15, and vaccinations began the same day.

They are currently vaccinating people in the 1a vaccination group.  While Prisma is pleased with the progress, O'Halla asked the public for patience as the process will take several months.

O'Halla also reminded that the vaccines are completely safe and very effective.

Prisma Health Chief Ambulatory Medical Officer Dr. Saria Saccocio​ echoed that statement.  She reported Prisma has vaccinated over 22,000 people across state thus far.  Of those 22,000 vaccinations, only three people had a moderate reaction to the vaccine.  There have been no severe reactions.

She further reported 50% of the Prisma team has been vaccinated.

Lastly, she reminded the public not to call family physicians or pharmacies about scheduling a vaccination.  Family physicians cannot schedule vaccinations as they do not have access to appointment scheduling capabilities.  Those in the appropriate vaccination group seeking vaccination must sign up on their own through Prisma Health online.

All information on vaccination through Prisma Health is available online: https://prismahealth.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine.