‘This is going to open up so much to me’: Those in Phase 1B eager to get vaccinated

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 8:54 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - We’re just a few days away from more than half of South Carolinians being eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting Monday, the state will move into Phase 1B of its vaccine plan.

The list includes anyone aged 55 and older, as well as people 16-54 with underlying health conditions.

Some people in Phase 1B said they’re eager to get the shot now more than ever before.

“It’s very emotional,” said 62-year-old Cathy Tourloukis. “I’m one of the people who have been isolated for almost the whole year.”

Tourloukis said she wrote to Gov. Henry McMaster about prioritizing those 55 and older a few days ago.

Tuesday, her wish was granted with the group included in Phase 1B.

Tourloukis said she was even able to get a spot for the drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Darlington Raceway Friday.

McMaster approved the event to include those in Phase 1B since vaccines were still available at the time. The clinic is now fully booked.

“This is going to open up so much to me now. Visit the grandchildren, my children, my mom,” said Tourloukis.

As for 62-year-old Kathy Ferguson, she said she didn’t expect the state to move to Phase 1B so soon given that people in Phase 1A are still waiting to get a shot.

“I’ve spoken to friends of mine that haven’t been able to get an appointment yet so I was a little surprised they opened it up, but on the other hand being selfish for me I was happy that they did,” said Ferguson.

She said she’s getting the vaccine to better protect herself and her husband who has several underlying health conditions.

Ferguson said he’s in Phase 1A and has already received the vaccine.

“It gives me a little more peace of mind as far as getting back out there,” said Ferguson.

People with disabilities are also included in Phase 1B.

Sarah Nichols with ABLE SC said they’ve pushed for this since the beginning of the state’s vaccine rollout, initially wanting anyone with a disability included in Phase 1A.

Nichols said the definition of a disability is wide-ranging. It not only includes those with conditions like down syndrome, but any physical or mental impairment, which refers to people with medical conditions like heart disease as well.

She said some people with disabilities also have a care attendant, which is a person who helps them with daily tasks.

This puts them at greater exposure and risk of contracting the virus.

“Personal care attendants may be seeing multiple people in a day, and therefore they can be doing all they can to protect themselves you know multiple patients and they still might catch the virus and pass it along to their patients who are at high risk,” said Nichols.

Nichols said the organization will also help people book vaccine appointments once they become available.

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