Lowcountry doctors, pharmacists reflect on COVID-19 vaccines one year later

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Millions of South Carolinians have begun the vaccination process, so far more than three million have got at least one dose of the vaccine. This, as December marks one year since vaccines began rolling out across the nation and here in the Lowcountry.

It’s been a year with vaccines, going from wondering if there would be enough doses to keep up with demand to deciding which shot is the best to get. Now, with booster shots here – doctors are recommending doubling down before holiday gatherings.

60% of South Carolina residents 12 years and older have started the process to be vaccinated but medical professionals say the demand for doses has slowed down since this past spring.

“Since about mid-April, we’ve been trying to get through that last 50%,” says Dr. Robert Oliverio, Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Care and Population Health for Roper St. Francis Hospital.

Roper St. Francis says it’s administered roughly 150,000 COVID-19 doses, going from vaccinating roughly 1,500 people a day at peak to just hundreds a day now. For Dr. Oliverio, he says the drop off is concerning.

“Things have changed since December of 2020, we’ve seen the emergence of variants, we’ve seen the emergence of very dangerous variants,” says Dr. Oliverio.

From initial vaccine doses to booster shots, health professionals says they’re seeing mixed demand for the vaccine and booster shots.

“We’re seeing a huge demand especially during the holiday season,” says Dottie Farfone, a Pharmacist and owner of Dottie’s Pharmacy on Folly Road.

“The demand for boosters hasn’t been great,” says Dr. Oliverio. “I think that’s something we’re going to have to talk about.”

For Scott and Dottie Farfone of Dottie’s Pharmacy, they say they’re seeing a high number of people booking appointments and are hoping the demand continues through the end of the year.

“Anyone 18 and over is qualified as long as it’s been more than six months,” says Scott Farfone.

“I would suggest getting it anytime – it’s better to have it than to not have it,” says Dottie Farfone.

Medical professionals are reflecting back on a year with COVID-19 vaccines and now boosters, but they say the war is far from over.

“It was a great time early one but I think everyone is coming to the realization that this is something we’re going to have to live with for a while,” says Dr. Oliverio.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment you can go to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website or pharmacies offering the vaccine like Dottie’s Pharmacy.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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