Efforts underway to ensure rural vaccine access in SC

Tracking The Vaccine

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Local and state officials are working to make sure vaccines are getting to communities of all sizes, not just the major hubs. Some leaders want to see access expand in rural areas.

McLeod Health plans to vaccinate hundreds with a clinic Friday at the Dillon Wellness Center.

“It’s important, one for transportation purposes,” Dillon city manager Glen Wagner said. “If they can do it locally, I think they feel a little safer and more comfortable. So I think it’s a positive.”

Senator Kent Williams said it’ll take a targeted approach to get enough vaccines to rural communities.

“You got to go where the people are in these rural areas because of the various challenges,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have access to transportation… And then you got people who work and people who have childcare issues.”

Senator Williams said the rural rollout is picking up after a slow start. He hopes progress continues.

“I think we got to be more aggressive and doing more of that,” he said. “It did start off rather slow, getting vaccine into the rural areas, but I see it beginning to pick up now and we just want to build on that.”

“The more partners we have, I think the better off you are,” he added.

Speaking of partners, the CDC is reportedly in talks with Dollar General to accelerate vaccine distribution, according to USA TODAY. There are many Dollar General locations in the Pee Dee, often in the area’s smallest communities.

Meanwhile, DHEC is working on a pilot program that looks to get vaccine to people who are homebound. It’s also taking suggestions for vaccination sites right on its website.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to ship vaccine to that location, but it does mean we know of locations that are available to maybe some of the hard to reach individuals in our community,” DHEC Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson said.

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