DHEC approves more than 100 independent pharmacies to give COVID-19 vaccines

Tracking The Vaccine

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is looking to increase the locations where people can receive the COVID-19 vaccine by getting help from independent pharmacies.

Ocean Lakes Pharmacy has provided medicine in Surfside for about 40 years and it’s looking to give something that could stop the biggest health crisis in that time: the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The day the process started, we were one of the first in line,” said pharmacist-in-charge Joe Shockley. “The larger chains have been able to have access to it. The independents and smaller pharmacies have not. We’re just in the waiting process, waiting on our turn to be able to help out the community.”

The small pharmacy already has about 50 people on its vaccine waitlist, even as it’s unclear when Ocean Lakes will receive its first doses.

“We need to get closer to where everybody is,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC’s senior deputy for public health at a media briefing Wednesday. “We need to get closer to our residents to be able to provide them vaccine quickly and easily.”

Davidson says at least 120 independent pharmacies across the state are now able to give the vaccine this week to communities of all sizes.

“They provide great coverage around the state to some very rural communities and also additional coverage in our urban areas,” Davidson said. “We also have hundreds of more providers who we are waiting to activate once we have more vaccine.”

Ocean Lakes is not one of those independent pharmacies receiving doses yet and Shockley says it will be ready to give shots, especially to those who can’t find an appointment or travel to a hospital or mass vaccination event.

“Oh, definitely, we’ll be able to help them,” he said. “We’ll be able to do it curbside if need be, just whatever the patient needs.”

DHEC also says part of why the state can move to phase 1b is because enough national retail and independent pharmacies are now able to give the vaccine.

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