Paperwork Problems: MUSC officials say documentation requirements are slowing down vaccinations

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Healthcare leaders across the state have a shared goal: getting vaccines into arms. However, officials from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) say the mountains of paperwork behind the scenes are slowing down the process.

VAMS data collection example

Dr. Danielle Scheurer, an Internal Medicine Specialist for MUSC, says all of this documentation takes a ton of man power.

“On average we’re vaccinating 3-4 thousand people a day and it takes us at least a minute per patient and that really adds up to several full-time people sitting in cubicles just documenting for VAMS,” says Scheurer.

All vaccine providers in the state of South Carolina are required to use the Federal Government’s Vaccine Administration System (VAMS), which asks over 25 questions for 1 vaccine shot.

“I don’t know that people realize all the documentation that goes into this. Demographics, lot number, expiration of vaccine – it’s a lot. Every time we administer a dose, we have to do the accompanying documentation. As a result, we’re constantly playing catch up,” says Scheurer.

On top of potentially slowing down vaccinations, many believe that using VAMS may contribute to the recent lag in data collection for the Centers for Disease Control. The latest numbers show SC receiving 777,250 doses and distributing 439,888 doses.

According to Nick Davidson, DHEC Deputy of Public Health, this discrepancy is normal considering state providers have not had the vaccine in their hands for very long.

“We share the desire to get it into as many arms as quickly as possible, and while we have hundreds of providers across the state, they just recently received the vaccine. So now they’re having to put the systems in place to distribute it,” says Davidson.

Dr. Scheurer says South Carolina is not the only state to have issues with COVID-19 vaccine data collection.

“The difficulty is not unique to South Carolina. In fact, 41 other states haven’t even gotten it off the ground. So, I think some of it is growing pains,” says Scheurer.

MUSC officials say they are working with DHEC to find a way to streamline data collection; preferably by switching over to their data collection system ‘SIMON.’