Darlington clinic fully vaccinates 2,000 teachers for COVID

 Darlington clinic fully vaccinates 2,000 teachers for COVID

Thousands who were the first to receive vaccines under Phase 1b in South Carolina got their second shots Thursday at Darlington Raceway’s mass immunization clinic.

Phase 1b greatly expanded vaccine eligibility in the state, including to teachers and those with pre-existing health conditions. The first Darlington Raceway clinic, hosted by McLeod Health on March 5, got special permission from the state to include Phase 1b participants three days early.

McLeod estimates that the clinic immunized about 2,000 teachers last month, many from the Florence School District One. They were expected to return Thursday for their second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“We’re excited about that,” said Will McLeod, administrator of McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence. “I think anything we can do to get back to a normal life, to get kids back in school feels great …. The reason we’re doing this is to give hope to the community and and to to save lives.”

As exciting as getting both doses may be, McLeod Health reminds all patients who got their second shot Thursday will not reach full vaccine effectiveness for another two weeks. Mask wearing is still important in the meantime, Will McLeod said.

As of 1 p.m., Will McLeod said that the clinic was vaccinating an average of 700 people per hour. Many people attending the event carpooled, with some vehicles including more than three people planning to get vaccinated.

Three people get receive their second Moderna vaccine doses at McLeod Health’s mass clinic at Darlington Raceway on April 1, 2021. Courtesy of McLeod Health Courtesy of McLeod Health

Thursday’s mass vaccine clinic, which only gave out second doses, comes on the same day that the state opened up appointments to anyone 16 and up.

When the event kicked off this morning, Will McLeod said he was reminded of a thank you note left by a patient who got vaccinated at the March 5 event.

“The card said, ‘I want to thank you for for giving me hope that I haven’t had in over a year, hope of being able to spend time with my family, hope of being able to see my grandkids,” Will McLeod said. “And it was signed, ‘One of 5,000.’”

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Chase Karacostas writes about tourism in Myrtle Beach and across South Carolina for McClatchy. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with degrees in Journalism and Political Communication. He began working for McClatchy in 2020 after growing up in Texas, where he has bylines in three of the state’s largest print media outlets as well as the Texas Tribune covering state politics, the environment, housing and the LGBTQ+ community.

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