“It’s finally here! The day has come!”
That was the message sent out to residents and staff of the Wellmore senior lifestyle community on Daniel Island to announce the arrival of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, Dec. 30, through a partnership with CVS, the facility administered more than 130 doses to waiting arms.
Wellmore Executive Director Colby Bryant described the atmosphere as the long-awaited day unfolded.
“Electrifying!” he said. “Everybody has been ecstatic. We actually had some residents coming down about 8 o’clock (in the morning) that wanted to be early ... We had said between 9 and 10 (a.m.), and they were ready to go. Everybody has been really excited and wanting to get it. Nervous excitement maybe a little bit, but everybody has been just phenomenal ... and very positive both before and after.”
According to Bryant, Wellmore is one of the first facilities of its kind in the Lowcountry to offer the vaccination. The shot was not required for residents, but most elected to get it, he said. They will return for a second shot in about three weeks.
Michael “Micky” Calderon, president of the resident council at Wellmore, was among the first in line last Wednesday.
“I feel very, very good about this,” he said, after getting his shot. “Because we waited a long time for this ... We’re all excited about it.”
“I feel fine about getting it,” added Jessie Kreidler, who has lived at the facility since April 2018. “I certainly would prefer getting the shot to having the virus! And I guess the only way to do it is to vaccinate everyone.”
Joyce Lyons, who moved into Wellmore about four months ago, said she had “no hesitation” in getting the vaccine.
“(It was) very, very painless ... Don’t be afraid – just go get it!”
Other senior facilities on Daniel Island are working out their own vaccination plans. According to Kelly Jo Hinrichs of the Daniel Pointe Retirement Community, where there are 128 rentable apartments and 30 staff members, details are “still in the works,” but will be announced soon. The Daniel Island News also reached out to Summit Place, an assisted living facility on the island, but did not hear back by press time.
This first round of vaccinations, known as Phase 1A, is intended for health care workers and residents and staff of nursing homes and other senior facilities. Dr. Danielle Scheurer, chief quality control officer for the MUSC Health System, noted that MUSC received their first doses of the vaccine on Dec. 15. Within hours, the shots were being administered.
“It was the most inspiring day of work in all of 2020,” Scheurer said. “It just felt like the whole mood changed ... it was like, finally, this thing is going to end without killing another million people. There is a pathway of resolution here.”
Phase 1B should begin in two to four weeks, Scheurer noted. That round will be directed at citizens over the age of 75, as well as frontline essential workers such as first responders, teachers/educators, daycare workers, manufacturing workers, corrections officers, postal workers, public transit employees, and grocery store workers. Phase 1C will include those 65 and over, in addition to those aged 16-64 who have one or more high risk medical conditions. Once large supplies of the vaccine are available, efforts will
move into phases 2 and 3, which will involve continuing to vaccinate targeted groups as well as the general population through an expanded provider network.
According to Scheurer, MUSC currently has four locations to administer vaccinations, but once phases evolve she expects their Daniel Island practice will serve as an administration site for the community.
Dr. Lucy Davis of Palmetto Primary Care on Daniel Island reports that they are in the process of applying to be an administrator of the vaccine.
“We hope to be able to administer the vaccine in our Daniel Island location,” she stated. “We have formed a committee of physicians, lab personnel and pharmacists that are actively working on a roll-out plan ... I am optimistic we could be offering the vaccine to our higher risk patients as early as February and to the general population later in the spring.”
And she hopes all will take advantage of what the vaccine offers.
“While there are still many unknowns about the long term efficacy of the vaccine, it is our best bet at returning to some sense of normalcy and I hope that most Americans will take this opportunity to crush COVID,” Davis added.
Residents and staff at Wellmore on Daniel Island are certainly grateful to have been among the first to roll up their sleeves.
“It’s like Christmas,” Bryant said. “... It’s a great way to bring in the new year!”
For additional information on the South Carolina COVID vaccination plan, visit scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination.