COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Monday the COVID-19 vaccine reached South Carolina’s most vulnerable residents.
CVS Pharmacy officials said they began administering the vaccine on Monday to residents and staff at skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Carolina.
“We think these are vials of hope that are going to bring families back together, and what’s a better time to be able to start that than Christmas,” CVS Regional Director for South Carolina Richard Kimball said. “We’ve already had some opportunities in some other states to provide this, and just to see the tears of joy of people sitting outside the windows watching us vaccinate their family members and to realize that they are going to be able to hug them and see them again—it’s quite rewarding.”
Kimball said that the first phase of the clinics will begin at the facilities anytime between December 28 and the end of January, with approximately 682 nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state getting the vaccine.
“We’re working through this with the nursing facilities,” Kimball said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for anyone in our population or in the United States to be vaccinated.”
He said they will be administering the Moderna vaccine, and CVS plans to visit each facility three times within a three-month span. The first visit will take place between now and around January 26 to administer the first dose. Kimball said they will administer the second dose 28 days later and will make a third visit the month after to administer the vaccine to any new residents or residents who didn’t get the vaccine during their first visit and would like to get it.
“We’re going to be able to get out ahead and protect a lot of our most vulnerable patients in SC,” Kimball said. “I’m really proud about that, and really excited that we are going to be touching those lives and getting people back to normalcy.”
He stressed that it’s optional for residents and staff to get the vaccine, but they are strongly encouraging all to participate.
Mark Hubbard, a spokesperson for Harmony Senior Services in Columbia, said they are hoping for the administration to begin at their site for their 140 residents and nearly 130 staff by mid-January. Harmony Senior Services is an assisted living and independent living facility in Columbia.
“People want to be able to hug their family members and be close to their family members, and that’s why we are excited about the vaccine coming because it’s going to allow people in the near future to be close again,” Hubbard said. “As a company that’s focused on family helping families, we know how important it is for our residents and our associates to get back to some sort of normal.”
Hubbard said it’s been a difficult 10 months for both residents and staff, but the administrations from CVS feel like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’re in the middle of the holidays, and to have something to be hopeful and joyful about, and to have something to be looking forward to, and the vaccine coming is certainly that for our residents and associates,” Hubbard said.
He said it’s optional, but they’ve been encouraged by the response so far from both staff and residents on their eagerness to get the vaccine.
CVS Pharmacy officials said they are also gearing up to offer the vaccine to the general public in their 10,000 pharmacy locations across the country in 2021. They do not have a specific timeline for that rollout at this time.