Gamecock Park mass vaccination site praised as SC vaccine use sees improvement

COLUMBIA (WOLO): In January, the CDC ranked South Carolina as one of the slowest states for vaccine use. A new national report released Monday now ranks the Palmetto state as 5th in the nation.

“We had that bad rap because we weren’t doing it quick enough. I think that the medical professionals in South Carolina were trying to find a way.”

Columbia resident Michelle Knight believes they found a way at Gamecock Park. She took her 71-year-old mother to the mass vaccination site last week after scheduling an appointment online. “We went at 9:50am. The process was so smooth.  We got her shot and we parked for 15 minutes and at 10:29am we drove out of there. She had her first vaccine, “Knight said.

The site currently accounts for 1700 to 2300 vaccinations a day.  Amy Kennedy, Manager of Health Systems Engineering tells ABC Columbia, “we mobilized a team within a matter of days. We did use a lot of knowledge from our drive-thru testing site. So that team has been an amazing part of the success here.”

80 percent of vaccinations at the site are walk-ins. Kennedy says that remains their biggest challenge. “With vaccine supply, we don’t know sometimes until Sunday or Monday what we’re gonna receive on Tuesday, so it can be challenging. Only about 20% of the patients we see here have appointments that day. We primarily are serving that population that could not figure out the VAMS system.”

Chief Clinical Officer of Prisma Health Midlands, Dr. Rick Scott said, “it is not efficient to have a staff of people walking with laptops that have to be returned to the charger every couple of hours, in an area that didn’t use to have wifi but does now, just so we can serve those people. We continuously re-evaluate our sites and whether there are better options.  But right now, we’re immensely grateful to USC for providing us that space, for allowing us to turn it in to what it is, and for often sending us volunteers to help staff it.”

And with every little shot, comes hope to the thousands of South Carolinians affected by COVID-19.

Kennedy said, “it’s worth every second that I’m out here just for that one more vaccine being administered. “

“One of the volunteers wrote us a great note afterwards. He remarked in his email that he’s proud to be an american. I think those are the moments that make u realize you’re making a difference, said Dr. Scott. 

Dr. Scott assures South Carolinians the vaccine is safe and effective, and encourages everyone to take it as it’s available. He says he’d rather see you at Gamecock Park than the Emergency room at Prisma Health.

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