Tidelands Health begins administering COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 70 and older
Tidelands Health has kicked off a massive effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 70 and older, with plans to vaccinate thousands of individuals in that high-risk age group in the coming weeks.
The health system has set up centrally located clinics in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown for individuals who have made appointments through Tidelands Health to receive the vaccine. Only those who have scheduled appointments through Tidelands Health can receive the vaccine at these clinics; no walk-ins or additional individuals without appointments can be accommodated.
The clinics began administering doses to the 70 and older community Monday.
“We are taking a huge step forward in our fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic with the start of vaccinating individuals 70 and older,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health. “Our team is excited to see the tremendous response from those in our community wanting the vaccine, and we are eager to get the vaccine in arms as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
More than 30,000 individuals 70 and older have requested an appointment with Tidelands Health to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since Wednesday, the first day this age group in South Carolina was eligible to sign up to receive the vaccine per South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control guidelines. Tidelands Health is scheduling appointments on a weekly basis as it receives shipments of the vaccine from the government. With adequate supply of vaccine, Tidelands Health has the team and process in place to vaccinate as many as 5,000 people per week.
The health system is hiring up to 200 temporary workers to support the clinics in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown, has arranged for large spaces to accommodate the clinics and has contracted with call centers to efficiently manage vaccine appointments.
“Our team is ready,” said Gayle Resetar, chief operating officer of Tidelands Health. “We’ve launched this effort to vaccinate those 70 and older while we also continue to provide first and second doses of the vaccine to Phase 1a health care workers in our community. We are committed to getting the vaccine to as many people as possible following DHEC guidelines.”
Seniors who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at clinics Monday said they were excited to be among the first in their age group to get the shot.
Donna de Zayas, 78, of Murrells Inlet, who is receiving treatment for lung cancer, was so eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine she woke up early Wednesday to complete the request for appointments at tidelandshealth.org as soon as the form was available.
“I was very, very relieved to be able to get this appointment,” she said, wearing an “I took my shot” sticker while sitting in the 15-minute observation area after receiving the vaccine Monday.
Camille Cardarella of Murrells Inlet said getting the first dose of the vaccine gives her hope that she may soon be able to once again see and hug her relatives and simply get out of the house more.
“It’s really been hard,” she said of the past year. “I was very excited that the vaccine was available to me. This is a very good day. It’s a blessing.”
Resetar noted that it will take time to vaccinate all those 70 and older who have requested a vaccine. The number of appointments scheduled each week is determined by the amount of vaccine the health system receives from the government for that week. Individuals are contacted in the order requests are received. Want to get on the list? Complete the request for vaccine appointment form at tidelandshealth.org, or call 1-866-TIDELANDS.
“We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as we embark on the monumental task of vaccinating thousands of 70 and older individuals,” Resetar said. “If you’ve completed the form on the Tidelands Health website or through our phone line, rest assured you are on the list for a vaccine. We will call you to schedule an appointment as soon as we have vaccine available for you.”