MUSC estimates more than two-thirds of population in Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties is immune to COVID-19
Research from the Medical University of South Carolina estimating more than two-thirds of residents in Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties have immunity to COVID-19 is promising news for the region, a Tidelands Health physician leader says.
The recently released MUSC data estimates 74 percent of the population in Georgetown County is immune either through COVID-19 vaccination or from antibodies after recovering from the virus, placing the county’s immunity level in the Top Three statewide. Horry County ranks fifth, with 69 percent immunity. Williamsburg County is also in the Top 10 statewide with 67 percent immunity.
“These numbers are impressive,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health, the region’s MUSC Health affiliate. “We’re inching so close to putting this in our rearview mirror. We aren’t past it yet -- it’s right beside us -- so we need to stay in our lane and keep doing the right things for just a bit longer. But we’re so close.”
MUSC estimates statewide immunity has reached 65 percent. MUSC calculated the immunity percentage based on an elaborate system factoring partial and full vaccinations, as well as COVID-19 infections that lead to natural immunity.
The percentages are significant because they show how close some areas are to achieving an immunity level that would substantially slow the virus’ ability to spread.
While the research estimates a majority of local residents have reached immunity, other parts of the state have immunity levels below 50 percent. And residents who haven’t reached immunity through vaccination or infection may still be vulnerable to COVID-19. Vaccines aren’t yet available for children under 16, though Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow it to expand use to teens ages 12 to 15.
“We must continue the safety protocols for now so we don’t see another surge – especially when we are so close to conquering this virus,” Dr. Harmon said.
MUSC’s immunity estimates are the latest in a series of positive steps showing the region’s progress against COVID-19.
Georgetown County ranks second in the state for its rate of vaccination, and Horry County ranks fourth, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
To date, Tidelands Health has administered nearly 70,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at three regional vaccination sites in Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet and Georgetown.
Vaccines are readily available. Individuals can schedule an appointment in advance or drop by a vaccination site during walk-in hours, as follows:
- Howard Gymnasium, 1610 Hawkins St., Georgetown: every Thursday, noon-7 p.m.
- Tidelands Health Medical Park at The Market Common, 2200 Crow Lane, Myrtle Beach: every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 5-7 p.m.
- Inlet Square Mall, 10125 Frontage Road, Murrells Inlet: every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Individuals who prefer to schedule an appointment have three convenient scheduling options:
- CALL: To schedule a vaccine appointment by phone, call 1-833-6-MYSHOT (1-833-669-7468). Representatives are available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week.
- CLICK: Vaccine appointments can be scheduled online at tidelandshealth.org/vaccine using the hospital patient portal. You don’t have to be a Tidelands Health patient to use this tool.
- CHAT: Scheduling also is available via an online chat feature at tidelandshealth.org/vaccine. Chat scheduling is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.