HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - WMBF News obtained an email showing that all Horry County Government employees were offered the chance to receive the Moderna vaccine.
This comes as those eligible for the vaccine are clamoring to get it where they can, some waiting in line, while thousands of others are on hospital waiting lists.
WMBF News started digging into the data and discovered Horry County Fire Rescue is just one of two county fire departments in S.C. currently listed as a Moderna vaccine provider.
Horry County Fire Rescue has received 3,800 first-dose allocations of the Moderna vaccine, according to vaccine allocation data published on the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website.
HCFR has also received 1,100 second doses of the Moderna vaccine, those charts show. The other, Clarendon County Fire Rescue, has only received 600 first-dose allocations.
Horry County Public Information Officer Kelly Moore says they’ve been instructed to use their doses quickly.
“Guidance continues to be that we administer the vaccine doses that we have been allocated as quickly as possible,” she said.
However, according to DHEC allocation records, Horry County Fire Rescue has used just 48%, or 1,818 doses, of their first-dose allocations. For second-dose allocations, only 11%, or 123 shots, have been administered.
WMBF News has requested Horry County provide information about who its fire department is administering the doses to.
Moore said the county has “been administering the vaccine to essential employees, related personnel, and designees of essential employees and related personnel,” which she stated is a model recommended by DHEC.
Horry County Councilmember Johnny Vaught provided WMBF News with an email sent to all county government employees on Jan. 15 offering access to the Moderna vaccine.
In the email, the county says “vaccines will be available to fulltime, part-time, and temporary employees as well as volunteers and interns who work within the capacity of County departments.”
The county scheduled appointments for employees to voluntarily receive the vaccine free of charge starting January 19, according to the email. Horry County currently employs 2,250 people, according to Moore.
WMBF News reached out to DHEC about Horry County’s stated vaccination model.
DHEC officials said a county government can enroll its EMS to become a vaccine provider. They added all activated providers are “expected to follow the guidelines set forth by DHEC and vaccinate only those people who qualify for vaccination under Phase 1a.”
Among those 65 or older, medical professionals, and first responders, Phase 1a also currently includes “State/local government employees and their contractors who are mission-critical for maintaining operations of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in SC.”
According to DHEC, “there has been no separate or additional guidance beyond what is online as the state’s officially adopted Phase 1a guidance… it’s critical that every vaccine provider adhere to the state’s carefully developed phase guidance. We are currently in Phase 1a and all providers should be vaccinating accordingly.”
In comparison, officials with the city of Myrtle Beach said to their knowledge, the only city employees that have received the vaccine work in the city’s public safety department and they received the vaccine at a hospital.