MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Tidelands Health began administering the first doses of Pzifer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday to people ages 70 and older.
The group was added to Phase 1a last week in an effort to speed up the state’s vaccination plan.
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Around 200 people received shots on Monday, which was the first day that Tidelands started vaccinating those in the age group.
Staff administered them at two sites outside of Tidelands Health hospitals in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown.
“If I can help by getting vaccinated and stop the spread of this disease, I’m all for it,” said Michael Levy, who received the vaccine on Monday.
The vaccinations are by appointment only. Walk-ins are not accepted.
Before getting the shot, patients were asked about their medical history and were told when to return for their second dose.
After the shot, they had to wait in an observation area for about 15 minutes in the case of a reaction to the vaccine.
This week the hospital has enough vaccines for 3,000 people, but the demand is 10 times that. So far, the hospital has received 30,000 requests.
“I think this population has had a month to sort of watch what’s happened, learn for themselves and I’m just thrilled that we have 30,000 people right in our service area,” Gayle Resetar, chief operating officer of Tidelands Health, said.
Resetar said they’re still working through transporting the vaccine to the sites and training new part-time vaccination staff, but said overall the first day went smoothly.
“The community members that have come through have been real positive,” she said. “I think if anything we’re just working to make sure we’re prepared for more on an hour basis.”
Resetar said the biggest challenge moving forward is the scarce vaccine supply.
“What we hope over the next month or so, we’re going to start seeing more supply, more inventory, maybe even another vaccine available to choose from,” Resetar said.
The 70 and older group is among the most vulnerable for COVID-19. For some, the risk is even higher.
“I have too many preexisting conditions and it’s very sad to see all these people who have died,” Levy said.
The same goes for Donna Dezayas, who’s currently receiving treatment for cancer.
“It’s a relief,” she said. “Everything is run very beautifully. It’s gone very smoothly.”
For Levy and Dezayas, getting the vaccine means getting back a sense of normalcy.
A lot of that has to do with seeing their family and grandkids in-person again.
“It’s been tough, it’s been tough. I haven’t seen my family as much as I would like to and now they say once I get my second vaccine they’re going to feel comfortable coming to visit,” Dezayas said.
“My daughter and their family got their vaccinations so we’re almost ready to go,” Levy said.
Conway Medical Center said it’s received more than 10,000 requests for the vaccine so far. The hospital started vaccinations last week.