Hospital officials reflect on six months since first vaccine doses arrived in Horry Co.

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Six months ago Monday, Horry County’s first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived at Conway Medical Center.

In the days following, other Grand Strand hospitals received their initial doses.

A lot has happened over the last six months, but the day the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at CMC, the hospital was filled with hope.

“The term I use frankly is game changer,” CMC Dr. Paul Richardson said. “I think that that was the moment where sort of the tidal battle, if you will, began to turn in our favor.”

Two days after CMC got its first doses, Tidelands Health employees received theirs.

It was a proud moment for Gayle Resetar, Tidelands Health’s chief operating officer.

“As they lined up, it was really fun to watch, because again, it was a real sense of hope,” Resetar said.

Scheduling problems and massive demand at the start of the vaccination process led to frustration among those over the age of 65. However, Richardson said that extreme demand was a good thing since it meant so many seniors wanted their shots.

“I can’t say enough great things about the way our older population responded and stepped up and got the vaccine,” Richardson said.

Six months after the first dose, hospital leaders said there’s still a lot of work to be done in the race to herd immunity. Data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control states 39.5% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated as of June 14.

Richardson said those numbers are far from where they need to be.

“Most infections, it’s in the 70 to 80%-plus of those people being immune in order for it basically to just kind of run out of hosts,” Richardson said.

The focus for many hospitals now is on vaccinating young people.

The 20-24 age group has the lowest vaccination percentage in the state, which is why hospital leaders continue to urge young people to get their shots.

“Some of those folks may have had COVID in the last six months and they’re feeling like they’re safe, but over time what we know is that those folks that might have had very, very minor symptoms probably didn’t develop very much immunity,” Resetar said.

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