MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Starting Wednesday, people who are 70 years old and older can begin making appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Right now, hospitals are preparing to meet the additional demand, while continuing to vaccinate healthcare workers and others in Phase 1-A.
“We want to make sure that we are offering these vaccines, both efficiently and safely,” Allyson Floyd with Conway Medical Center said.
Floyd said the process to make vaccinations available to the general public is a massive undertaking for hospitals.
Hospital staff is working on where to administer the vaccine to the 70 and up population, as well as staffing.
People will be able to book an appointment through the Conway Medical Center’s website.
They’ve also requested more vaccine doses and supplies in anticipation of the high demand. The hospital plans to begin vaccinations later this week.
FORGING AHEAD | WMBF investigates South Carolina’s vaccine distribution process
“The number of requests that we could have coming could be pretty overwhelming,” Floyd said.
Gayle Resetar, the chief operating officer at Tidelands Health, said they’re also working on specific locations for community vaccinations outside of Tidelands Health hospitals.
“We have 50 locations of service and so we’re not going to right now push out the vaccine to our individual practices,” she said. “We’re going to centralize that.”
Tidelands Health is creating temporary staff positions to help provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the public.
Resetar said they’ll provide a number for people to call to schedule an appointment and hopes to begin vaccinations next week.
With the 70 and up population among the most vulnerable for the deadly virus, many senior citizens are eager to roll up their sleeves.
“We’ve never been through a pandemic like this before in my lifetime,” said 74-year-old Dianne Merritt. “I’ve seen a lot of people suffer from COVID and I think it’ll be a good thing.”
Merritt said getting vaccinated is not just about protecting herself, but others as well.
“I have a family of seniors that I’m very, very close to and I’d hate to see something happen to any of them,” she said.
Despite the added pressure, health officials said the more people vaccinated, the better.
“This is hope. This is beginning to see the end of the tunnel so to speak,” Resetar said.
“We’re very excited to get to vaccinate more people because we do feel it’s an important step in the fight against covid,” Floyd said.
As for Grand Strand Health, a spokesperson said the hospital will not be able to begin scheduling appointments on Wednesday.
They’re using the limited vaccine doses to continue to vaccinate healthcare workers and first responders.
Above all, health officials are asking people to be patient as they work through the process.