Phased roll out of COVID-19 vaccine continues in the Lowcountry

Updated: Dec. 29, 2020 at 3:37 PM EST
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be rolled out across the Lowcountry, members of the population included in Phase 1 can decide whether they will get the vaccine.

Certain residents on Hilton Head Island have been able to get the vaccine for about a week.

“Our certified law-enforcement officers, sworn deputies, sheriff’s office, began getting the vaccine yesterday for COVID-19,” Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Bob Bromage said.

Law enforcement is one of the first groups eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Although they do still have a choice.

“Sheriff PJ Tanner and management of the sheriff’s office are not making the vaccine mandatory for personnel. It is optional.”

And many are choosing to wait a bit to get it. For the Beaufort County Sheriff’s office, only 28 percent of those eligible will be participating.

“Approximately 70 sworn deputy sheriffs have requested the vaccine, out of a total of 245 deputies of the sheriff’s office.”

Including administrative, they say since many do not work with the public daily, they would rather wait.

“I think we are going to see it staggered. That administrative staff, like me, down the road will get the vaccine but again, making it available for those that need the vaccine that are in contact with the public is our primary focus.”

On Hilton Head, town staff says they are unsure when they will be eligible.

“We are following their guidelines in terms of distribution and access for our staff,” Deputy Town Manager Josh Gruber said.

But they’re hoping many staff members will be eligible quickly.

“We believe that there’s a few cases to be made that some of them should have a little bit more priority access. Our emergency dispatcher is, people that work directly with the public. Code enforcement. Building inspection. Things like that.”

The town manager says he hopes staff members getting the vaccine will set a good example

“They help to set the example in the community. That we lead by example and by getting it themselves for telling people not only is it safe, but we are doing it, too.”

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