NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The first mass vaccination event for the COVID-19 vaccine has come to Horry County.
McLeod Health Seacoast hosted the clinic Saturday at North Myrtle Beach High School, where they said they administered 1,800 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Officials said they cut off the line with the last voucher at around 8:45 a.m. Originally, McLeod officials told WMBF News they would not start handing out vouchers until 8:30 a.m. and would start vaccination slot times at 9 a.m.
Lines began to form early Saturday morning on the school’s campus and around the area of Sea Mountain Highway, even before the scheduled start time. McLeod said they were instructed by South Carolina Highway Patrol to start clearing traffic, so they began giving out the vaccine vouchers.
McLeod said it had planned on handing out vouchers for its next vaccine event, but it was directed by the SCHP to cut off the line and not hand out any more vouchers.
The voucher will then provide a scheduled appointment time for vaccination that day. An ID proving the individual is 70 or older was required. The clinic did not include those ages 65-69, as Gov. Henry McMaster’s request to begin taking appointments that group starting Monday.
McLeod Health Seacoast Administrator Monica Vehige said today was another step forward to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the healthcare workers this is sort of the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
For the lucky ones who did get a vaccination today, they said it’s a sigh of relief.
Mickey Lienau, 76, said he anxiously awaited his dose.
“I’ve just been scared. Just scared. I think this is a lifesaver. I know I’m susceptible. This is great for me,” he said.
He also said he’s not sure why some people in his age group are skeptical of the vaccine.
“Why would you turn down something that’s pretty well proven to save your life,” said Lienau.
Helene Mahan said she arrived at 6 a.m. to get in line for the voucher.
“We were afraid that we wouldn’t get here in time, to be one of the lucky ones,” she said.
Shots we’re administered inside the school gym. In order to prevent everyone inside the gym at once, officials instructed those getting vaccinated to not come back to the school until right before their vaccination slot. People were also told to wait inside their car as well.
Dr. Dale Lusk, Chief Medical Officer for McLeod Health, said the high amount of interest shown for the vaccine on Saturday is a good sign. But he warns there’s a long road ahead in order to put a dent in the pandemic.
“It’s just not having enough vaccine, we’ve got many people, willing arms to take it,” he said.
McLeod officials said they’re working on securing details for a clinic within the next week, adding that they’re trying to bring a similar event to the Carolina Forest area.
The hospital says it won’t have full details on the potential event until Monday.