MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune is expressing concerns after WMBF News revealed all Horry County employees were offered coronavirus vaccine.
In a letter sent out Sunday afternoon, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said they had received reports that the provider might be “intentionally vaccinating individuals outside of the Phase 1a priority groups.”
Horry County responded to DHEC’s inquiry and said all of its employees are essential to maintaining the government and mission-critical efforts of COVID-19 vaccination and testing. DHEC is continuing to look into the issue.
Bethune said this puts her in a tough spot as mayor of a nearby municipality.
“When I get questioned [by city employees], ‘Why can’t we get vaccinated?’ That’s a real issue. Especially when they hear that employees of the county have been vaccinated. It just doesn’t look good. The optics aren’t good,” Bethune said.
She’s unhappy about the situation.
“Honestly, it makes me a little angry,” she said.
Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught stands by the county’s decision.
“We did exactly what we believed was within DHEC guidelines,” Vaught said.
Vaught said the county was making sure essential workers were vaccinated.
“That was why those doses were released to the county was so that we could continue county services,” he said. “And we were tasked with not only continuing county services with those doses but also by not wasting them by not letting them expire.”
Bethune said the focus should be on vaccinating the elderly, and she believes this all comes down to an issue of priorities.
“I’ve been working with three of the area hospitals for about four weeks now trying to get mass doses of the vaccine here so that we can have events, and it has been a struggle,” she said. “What I’m being told by every single one is that supply is a major issue. And again, it’s about the priorities.”