The State of South Carolina currently has only two mass vaccination sites, one in Greenville and the other in Columbia. These sites, and the travel required to access them, make it more difficult to vaccinate the population, particularly those individuals over 70 years old (more than 20% of the population of Laurens County, 12k+ residents).
The Ridge in Laurens has been selected to serve as a much-needed additional mass vaccination center.
The Ridge is uniquely adapted to serve as a mass vaccination center for our county and region. It is located geographically near the center of our county, and our county is centrally located in the Piedmont region of SC. It is also directly adjacent to EMS headquarters, should the need for their help arise.
A recreation facility of the City of Laurens, the Ridge will be adapted to use for the next several months as a mass vaccination site so that as much of the population may be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
The youth basketball programs which are usually hosted at the Ridge have been relocated to the facilities of community partners, the Laurens YMCA and First Baptist Church of Laurens.
Prisma estimates 256 vaccinations may be performed per day, Monday through Wednesday, 8:30 am-4:00 pm. When/if vaccine supplies are increased and streamlined, the facility may be able to accommodate approximately triple the number of vaccinations per day. Prisma is partnering with the City of Laurens to provide this service to the public and has provided permanent upgrades to several electrical and technological systems at the Ridge to maximize potential capacity, at no cost to the City of Laurens. Additionally, the parking lot has been re-striped and additional temporary gravel parking areas have been established.
“We are fortunate to have a facility like the Ridge that can be quickly adapted to provide this much needed service to the community,” said Laurens Mayor Nathan Senn.
Vaccines will be administered by Prisma staff, community healthcare workers, and the staff and upper-level students of Presbyterian College PA and Pharmacy schools. All students will be appropriately supervised by an attending physician. After the vaccine is administered, the recipients must be observed for no less than 15 minutes to monitor their condition.
In addition to the staff who will administer the vaccines and guide recipients through the intake process, the Ridge will host additional staff and volunteers who will be regularly disinfecting the facility.
More than 25,000 vaccines have been administered by Prisma, and no serious side effects have resulted. Slight, lingering discomfort in the arm from the shot and low-grade fevers have been reported, but no other serious side effects.
Vaccines will be administered by appointment. Local churches (to be announced) have agreed to host volunteers who will assist those seeking to be vaccinated with signing up for an appointment online if any individual is not able to access the internet or needs assistance with the sign-up process. Once an appointment is made online, individuals to be vaccinated may arrive at the Ridge at the appropriate time and they will be guided through the facility and receive their shot.
Members of the City Administration, including the City Administrator, Gary Coleman, and first responders in the Laurens Police and Fire Departments have already received vaccines.
Vaccines will not be administered to the public on a first come-first served basis. At this time, the 1-A category is being vaccinated (subject to any modifications by the Governor’s executive orders) and soon, subsequent categories/classifications shall be eligible to be vaccinated.
Stay up-to-date for announcements and updates concerning eligibility and scheduling of vaccinations by checking here on the BUZZ.