Updated story from the Feb. 3 issue of The Advertiser.
Feb. 8, 2021
Laurens, S.C. – Before the pandemic, The Ridge at Laurens was typically filled with children in basketball and volleyball tournaments or adults in meetings in the conference room. Last Monday, however, it was filled instead with health professionals and many people 70 and over getting their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Aside from first responders and those in the medical profession, this week marks the first time that those 65 and older can receive the vaccine. This is not nationwide, but is in response to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster to open up the vaccines to as many 65 and older, and soon 60 and older, as possible.
Prisma is working in partnership with the City of Laurens Parks and Recreation Department, Prisma Laurens County Hospital and Presbyterian College and last week opened a clinic at The Ridge to administer Pfizer vaccines. For now, the Ridge location replaces the Laurens County Hospital vaccine location. The Ridge is located at 301 Exchange Dr., Laurens, S.C.
In answer to the governor’s call for faster vaccine distribution, Prisma Health, Self Regional and DHEC all have websites and telephone lines available for those who are looking for the vaccine.
Others, such as caregivers for at-risk youth and the elderly, are also eligible. For a full listing of those who are eligible see the third page of the DHEC pdf – https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/CR-012873.pdf.
The SCDHEC website has a Vaccine Locator map of providers, and for those having difficulty finding contact information to the providers, DHEC has added extra telephone staff to help answer questions. The DHEC COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line is 1-866-365-8110. DHEC’s site explains that the VAMS registration which is run by CDC does not allow for those under 70 because across the nation, many states are still only giving the vaccine to those 70 and older.
Prisma said all its vaccination sites need appointments, although each vaccination site manages walk-in access as vaccine supply allows, according to what is available that day. Updates on walk-in availability are posted on Prisma Health’s web site, www.PrismaHealth.org/Vaccine or are available by contacting the Prisma Health call center (1-833-2PRISMA (1-833-277-4762).
Self Regional in Greenwood is also offering vaccines and help in making appointments for those 65 and older.
The Self Regional COVID-19 vaccination hotline is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and those 65 and older may call (864) 725-3555 to make an appointment, or visit https://www.selfregional.org/covid-vaccine-request-form/.
On Monday, several of those who came to The Ridge at Laurens said they were very happy to have a place close by to receive their vaccine, and for the understanding when they explained their lack of computer access.
One Laurens County resident explained she lacks a computer and didn’t know where to call.
“I knew they were giving them out last week up at the old Kmart but I didn’t want to go up there,” said the woman who preferred to remain unnamed. “I’m a Laurens County resident and I like staying here. I came down to check it out and I was well pleased with the organization of it all,” she said. “I think it was a total of 45 minutes for everything.”
Another couple said they faced similar issues before visiting The Ridge.
“We have a computer but it’s not hooked up yet,” said Peggy Holt of Fountain Inn, who was there with her husband, Willie. “But we told them and they let us get the shots and I am so relieved.”
In spite of the supply at the new clinic at Laurens, however, overall Prisma Health’s vaccine supply is low. In a press release, Prisma said it received only 19,500 doses of the 60,000 Pfizer vaccines it requested for the week of Jan. 25.
In a DHEC Zoom meeting, Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director, said that the state will be receiving 10,000 additional doses of Moderna vaccine, and that it would primarily be going to retail pharmacies throughout the state.