COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Around 1,500 South Carolina veterans received their first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination event at Colonial Life Arena Monday.
The Columbia VA Healthcare System partnered with the University of South Carolina to pull the large-scale vaccination clinic together in just one week.
“I basically called up President Caslen middle of last week and said I need your help,” explained Columbia VA CEO David Omura. “Within an hour, he pulled together a full team.”
Some veterans say they’ve spent weeks trying to get their vaccine, but Monday, they were able to show up, register, and get their shots in around 30 minutes at one of thirty designated stations.
“I’m ex-military I’m used to something that’s very well organized,” said veteran Carl Horn. “This is very well organized.”
“I figured I would be out in a line about a mile long, but five minutes, and I was in the front door,” said 23-year-veteran Clifford Adams of Bamberg.
The Columbia VA designated Adams as their symbolic one-millionth veteran to get the vaccine. This comes as VAs across the country are celebrating more than one million veterans receiving their COVID-19 shots.
“I recommend it highly,” Adams explained. “Don’t sit back and say I’m going to do it. Go do it. It’s not costing you anything, and everybody here can help you if you have a problem, I swear by it.”
Governor Henry McMaster and U.S. House Representative Joe Wilson were impressed by the large-scale clinic.
“It’s such an inspiration to see government programs work, and this one has been seamless,” said Wilson. “It’s great to see the number of volunteers, to see the lack of lines, to see people happy and receiving their shots.”
More than 75 nurses worked the Presidents Day holiday to help vaccinate our war heroes.
“We love our veterans,” said Misty Davis, nurse manager at the Columbia VA. “That is the motivation. We want them to have great wellbeing, preventative care, so that’s is what we are here for.”
The Columbia VA will hold another mass vaccination at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday, March 13th. All veterans who received a shot at the event Monday will get their second dose then. The VA says if they have enough vaccines, they could potentially give out some first doses that day as well.
If you couldn’t make Monday’s event, the Columbia VA is offering vaccinations Monday through Saturday at the Dorn Medical Center on Garners Ferry Road.
The VA is currently contacting qualifying Veterans to schedule appointments, however, any currently enrolled veteran 65 or older can contact the vaccine hotline at 1-803-776-4000 1 ext. 2873 (CURE) to schedule a vaccination. Hotline hours are from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.