First day of new merged COVID vaccine clinic in Beaufort Co.

First day of new merged COVID vaccine clinic in Beaufort Co.

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A new COVID-19 vaccine clinic merging the efforts of two Beaufort County hospitals opened Wednesday.

Hilton Head Hospital and Coastal Carolina Hospital have moved their vaccine clinics to one location at the Buckwalter Recreation Center on Buckwalter Parkway in Bluffton.

Residents who have struggled to get an appointment so far were able to come and get their first or second dose.

“Today is a fantastic event,” Council Chairman Joe Passiment said.

The clinic will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays to distribute the vaccine.

“The centralized location is so easy to access. It’s so easy once you get in it, it’s a fantastic location for everyone to get vaccinated,” HHI Market CEO Jeremy Clark said.

Hilton Head has continually grown its vaccination numbers, they’re hoping this will help.

“We did about 2,000 vaccines last week. We will do 3,000 last week, and next week we will do close to 4,000. So, the more vaccine that we can make available to our community, the less they have to travel, the more convenient it is, hopefully the more people get vaccinated.”

“It’s going to continue to ramp up as we have now the Pfizer, the Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. So yeah, we are looking forward to being able to vaccinate maybe 1,000 people today, maybe 2,000 people tomorrow, maybe 3,000 the next day.”

VAM, the system for signing up for an appointment, has not changed.

“You still need to sign up through the VAM system, the CDC Vam system.”

But the hospital knows many people have faced issues with VAM.

“We know that DHEC is working on a simpler system. One that is easier to use than VAMs.”

They say for now, there are still a few appointments available for each day. The county says they are hoping they can use this clinic as an example of what can be done in the future.

“We are thrilled. And what we want to do is to continue to use this site, but then take a look at putting additional sites around the county to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can.”

The CEO said Wednesday is the first time in a year none of their patients in the hospital are positive for COVID. He says that is a huge step in the right direction to ending this pandemic.

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