MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – As hospitals across South Carolina look to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, the Veterans Affairs clinic in Myrtle Beach received its first doses Friday.
Right now, veterans along the Grand Strand have to travel about two hours to Charleston if they’re eligible for the coronavirus vaccine through the VA.
“We continue to expect to increase our delivery as our supply increases,” said Dr. Chris Blasy, who’s the chief medical officer of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston.
Dr. Blasy says the center in Charleston gave its 2,000th dose of the Moderna vaccine Thursday. The VA has now brought the vaccine up the coast.
Myrtle Beach’s clinic off Phillis Boulevard in The Market Common gave its first doses to some of its roughly 130 staff members, as well as some veterans Friday.
“Last week, we initiated contacting our veterans who were the highest risk,” said Dr. Blasy. “We sent out phone messages and we continued to reach out.”
The VA receives vaccines separately from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), which is also trying to expand who can be vaccinated. At a media briefing Friday, DHEC interim public health director Dr. Brannon Traxler says hospitals should vaccinate admitted patients 65 or older who don’t have COVID-19.
She also says all 750 long-term care facilities in the state will have the vaccine.
“As more and more people continue to get their shots each day and as more and more doses of vaccine are being provided to the states, we know that everyone, regardless of facility type, will soon be able to receive their vaccine,” Dr. Traxler said.
Dr. Blasy says eligible vets will have to travel to Charleston or wait until the Myrtle Beach VA clinic is ready to expand vaccinations beyond employees.
“Once we have all of the distribution plans and things set up, we’ll start administering vaccines to our veterans in those locations,” he said.
For more information, veterans can visit the VA’s online vaccine hub here. You can sign up for the “stay informed” tool to receive updated information as it becomes available. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center also posts updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Dr. Blasy also says the VA expects to start giving vaccines to veterans at the Myrtle Beach clinic by the end of the month.