Tents lined the way, accompanied by traffic cones and signage to corral a convoy of cars with individuals pre-registered to get inoculated with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s a cold, dreary day out here with the weather, but this is what light at the end of this long, dark, COVID tunnel looks like,” said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie at a press conference at Seacoast Church on the rain-filled Friday afternoon.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., more than a thousand eligible individuals received the vaccine. The shot was free and registrations were fully booked in advance with 1,032 applicants.
The pool of registrants receiving the vaccine were frontline health care workers, long-term care facility residents, parents who are home caregivers of chronically ill or special needs children, and seniors who are 70 years or older. Also, anyone who volunteered at the event had an opportunity to get the shot.
An early morning software glitch causing wait times up to an hour was resolved by a local Chick-fil-A manager, Jerry Walkowiak, who used his professional drive-thru experience to help, decreasing the wait time to 15 minutes.
The initiative was in conjunction with East Cooper Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Roper St. Francis, the Town of Mount Pleasant, and local Rotary organizations including the Rotary Club of Daniel Island. Officials noted that the event was the first of its kind in the state of South Carolina.
Local rotary clubs, including 35 volunteers from Daniel Island, assisted at the event. Their role and responsibilities mainly consisted of traffic control and helping with paperwork for vaccine recipients.
“If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem,” said Bill Cannon, immediate past president of DI Rotary. “We’ve got to pay attention to this, if we don’t, this is humanity at stake."
Cannon elected to get the vaccine at the event as did Angela Drake, current president of the DI Rotary.
Drake recalled waking up at 4 a.m. with excitement and enthusiasm to help support the cause. Her favorite part of the eight-hour event was seeing the smiles on the faces of seniors as they rolled down their car windows to receive their shot.
Also in attendance, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace stated that she doesn’t know why South Carolina ranks last nationwide in the ratio of vaccinations per 100,000 residents. She recently joined a federal delegation to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the answer to this question.
The vaccine requires two doses given 21 days apart, according to MUSC. Those who received the shot on Jan. 22 will return for their second dose, which will be administered at Seacoast Church on Feb. 12.