Close to 8,000 join AARP’s statewide vaccine telephone town hall

Close to 8,000 join AARP’s statewide vaccine telephone town hall
State leaders and public health officials led a Q & A telephone town hall Friday morning to answer questions from older South Carolinians regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - State leaders and public health officials led a Q & A telephone town hall Friday morning to answer questions from older South Carolinians regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine.

At one point, Teresa Arnold, state director for AARP SC, said there were close to 8,000 people on the line.

Gov. Henry McMaster gave remarks during the hour-long session, and offered assistance to answers as listeners voiced questions and concerns to Dr. Ed Simmer, DHEC’s newly-confirmed director, and Dr. Linda Bell, DHEC’s state epidemiologist.

Simmer said early on, the vaccine efforts tended to focus on medical providers in urban areas, but that they’re committed to making sure rural areas have equal access to the vaccine.

DHEC is working with federally qualified health centers, many of which are in rural areas.

“Several of our hospital providers are in the process of purchasing mobile units - basically vans that have the equipment so that can go almost anywhere and administer the vaccine. So we have several of those that are now available and more coming,” said Simmer.

Many of those will be going into rural parts of the state.

DHEC is working with community groups, local officials, and spiritual groups “so that we can get the vaccine to people where they are,” Simmer explained.

One woman asked if Bell supported wearing two masks. Bell explained that the recommendation for wearing two masks does not apply to everyone.

“The first thing is to have a mask that is well-constructed of at least two layers of fabric, and that it fits your face well, and that you wear it appropriately: always covering the nose and the mouth,” Bell said.

But if there are gaps around the face, a second mask could come into play.

“The CDC has made a recommendation that in the instance where you have a mask like that, that is not well-fitted, that may have gaps around your face - that you can wear a second mask on top of that, a second cloth mask on top of that so that it fits more tightly around your face,” she said.

A recording of the town hall can be found on AARP SC’s Facebook page linked here.

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