HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Some Horry County officials are concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines being administered by Horry County Fire Rescue (HCFR) to those who are not qualified.
HCFR is a designated COVID vaccine provider solely for county employees to get the vaccine. However, in a letter from the county’s EMS manager Ben Lawson, it states the department is also allowing an additional person, designated by a county employee to get vaccinated.
“Those doses were not designed for the public or whatever,” said Johnny Vaught, an Horry County councilman. “They were designed to keep government services working at the county level,” he explained.
Vaught said the county ordered vaccines from South Carolina DHEC specifically for county employees.
“As far as a designee, or that sort of thing, I don’t agree with it because I think we need to take care of the original intent of this thing in the first place,” Vaught explained.
News13 asked Kelly Moore, spokeswoman for Horry County, who falls under the “designee” category. She responded saying, “We are not providing additional interpretation outside of the information we have already released.”
DHEC sent a letter to Ben Lawson inquiring about the allegations of people outside of Phase 1A getting vaccinated. Phase 1A includes “state/local government employees and their contractors who are mission-critical for maintaining operations of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in SC.”
The letter from DHEC asked if others who are not recognized in Phase 1A are getting the shot. HCFR responded saying they granted employees to have a “designee” to also receive the vaccine, with an emphasis on those who met Phase 1A criteria.
It also mentioned that was their understanding based on previous conversations with DHEC, also considering ways to avoid wasting vaccines.
“We don’t want to waste any vaccines, but we really want to make sure the available vaccine gets in the arm of individuals who are determined to be an increased risk,” said Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist.
We also asked Moore how many “designees” have been vaccinated so far and she mentioned she wasn’t able to provide any additional information.
Neither DHEC’s or the CDC outlines a designated person in it’s guidelines. The CDC mentions those who are found vaccinating people outside of Phase 1A would be immediately terminated from the vaccination program and could be prosecuted.
As of last Friday, Horry County reported 2,202 people affiliated with Horry County have received the vaccine. Vaught told News13 there are 2,250 county employees and it has not been determined how many of those employees are considered “mission critical” by SCDHEC.