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DHEC working to get vaccines to rural areas

The state agency is working to address how to get rural communities vaccinated and local chains may be the way according to officials.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As vaccine rollout seems to be moving at a slow pace- the rural communities in the Midlands face an even tougher uphill battle with limited vaccine locations nearby.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control or SCDHEC, is working to address how to get vaccines to rural areas. 

In a vaccine update Friday, Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim Public Health Director for DHEC, addressed some help for rural communities needing to get the COVID19 vaccine.

National chain pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have multiple vaccine locations across the state- and will be able to help those in the rural areas. 

“Additionally, our Federally Qualified Health Centers – or FQHC’s- will begin to receive vaccines next week," Dr. Traxler said, "They’re another critical partner in providing access to our rural and underserved communities.”

Eau Claire Cooperative Health Services in Columbia and Family Health Centers in Orangeburg are two of these FQHC’s that serve 8 counties.

But there are still places in need. When looking at SCDHEC’s vaccine location map, places like Saluda county don’t have any available locations. But DHEC has plans in the works, “We are developing mobile clinics and I expect the first one to be ‘rolling out’ or going out and providing vaccines in the next week or so," Dr. Traxler said. 

But as these new sites open- it’s important to remember that the number of vaccines the state is receiving this week is still the same as in previous weeks. Meaning it will still be a while before the general population is vaccinated.

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