‘Getting our lives back’: CMC administers COVID-19 vaccine to first employees

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 11:18 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – Horry County has received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to information from Conway Medical Center, the hospital received a shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine at 9 a.m. Monday.

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Hospital staff said it is being stored in a secure location in an ultra-cold storage unit. The doses are contained in vials that contain 5 doses each. One vial was used Monday afternoon as the first CMC employees received the vaccine at the hospital.

The Director of Cardiology at CMC, Dr. Stephen Brady, was the first to receive the vaccine at the hospital. He encouraged everyone to receive their doses when available.

WATCH first CMC employee receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

“I think it’s important for people to stay off Facebook. I think it’s important for people to look at the science,” Brady said. “I think it’s important for us to get herd immunity, people have to get the vaccination.”

Brady added he wanted to use his vaccination as an opportunity to change any potentially skeptical minds.

“If I can make one more person get the vaccine that was on the edge, that’s what I really want to accomplish,” Brady said.

Another employee to receive the vaccine Monday was Dr. Simone Maybin.

“This is a treatment for a major problem that’s affecting the world, and so I think it’s important to arm ourselves,” Maybin said.

The employees will receive their second dose of the vaccine in 21 days.

“We all see this is a lifeline for all of us to be getting our lives back,” said Angela Williford, vice president of quality for Conway Medical Center. “I don’t know if it’s the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, but it’s extremely exciting. We’re so grateful that science has provided this to us, and that we have a way to protect our employees and our medical staff members and eventually all of us from this awful disease.”

Williford said as of mid-morning Monday, 105 employees had already registered to receive the vaccine. Thursday will be an all-day vaccination process for CMC, where they anticipate vaccinating 80 health care workers.

Those receiving these first doses are within the established Phase 1-A category, as agreed upon by the CDC, DHEC, and the hospital itself. CMC is vaccinating those workers that come close in contact with COVID-positive patients, such as those who work in the emergency department and in critical care, but also those who clean the rooms or deliver meals to patients.

A spokesperson with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said they have enrolled 307 provider locations as of Friday. As of Saturday, DHEC anticipated 56 locations will be used for the first week of vaccine allocation and were finalizing additional activation locations.

According to DHEC, nearly 43,000 doses are expected in the state by Wednesday.

Limited doses of the vaccine began arriving at hospitals across the country as the national death toll of COVID-19-related deaths reached over 300,000.

As exciting and hopeful as it is to have some of the first allocation of vaccine for their staff, CMC officials said we are not out of the pandemic yet, and it’s time to remain vigilant.

“We are still in the middle of all of this, and vaccines are not the silver bullet - they are the first step to us recovering from this,” Williford explained. “We certainly want people to continue their social distancing and wearing of masks, whether they’ve received the vaccine or not. So please help us keep everyone safe until we have enough vaccines and enough arms.”

CMC said they think it will take about two weeks to vaccinate with the first allotment of 975 doses. They hope to receive the same number of doses next week.

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