Deputies get vaccine as rollout hits Phase 1b
Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is so fluid that Sheriff Carter Weaver was still waiting Tuesday morning to learn when deputies would be vaccinated. A few hours later he was rolling up his sleeve for a shot.
“I wanted to get it to show the confidence in it and our health care system, and our health care workers, and the importance of it,” Weaver said. “Hopefully most, if not all, of the sworn employees will see the importance and they’ll get it.”
Law enforcement and critical infrastructure workers are part of Phase 1b, the second step in the vaccine distribution, which started Dec. 14. The phase also includes people age 75 and above, teachers and essential frontline workers.
The state has received 142,350 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, according to Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim public health director for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. More than 52,053 people have been vaccinated and another 69,959 have appointments to be vaccinated. The state wants health care workers in Phase 1a to make a vaccine appointment by Jan. 15 to maintain priority, Traxler added.
The general public will get access to a vaccine in Phase 2, which is due to begin in late spring.
DHEC officials have met with Gov. Henry McMaster about speeding up the vaccine process.
Georgetown County firefighters began getting vaccinated on Dec. 22. Brandon Ellis, the county’s Emergency Management director, said about a third of firefighters and EMS workers have been vaccinated. It is not mandatory, he added.
Before deciding to get the vaccine, Midway Fire and Rescue Chief Doug Eggiman did a lot of research and talked to his peers. His biggest concern, he said, was if he didn’t get the vaccine and got infected with COVID-19, he could pass it along to his wife, daughters or sons-in-law.
“I didn’t even feel it,” Eggiman said. “My arm was a little sore later, a little tender in the spot where I got it.”
The Lakes at Litchfield received the Moderna vaccine after Christmas and administered it to 250 residents and staff. That vaccine is managed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The county has partnered with Tidelands Health for its vaccinations.
Tidelands has already vaccinated 50 percent of its doctors and 50 percent of its other staff.
“Even as we continue vaccinating team members and others in Phase 1a, we have already been planning for Phase 1b vaccinations,” said Gayle Resetar, chief operating officer of Tidelands. “We’re doing all we can to advocate for our community and secure as much vaccine as possible to administer as we work our way through the phases outlined by DHEC.”
Last month, County Council extended its emergency mask ordinance until at least Jan. 27.
“People are dying. It’s not going away anytime soon,” Weaver said. “We need to do everything we can do to make sure that we limit the spread.”