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University of South Carolina College of Nursing Helps Lead the Charge in State Vaccinations

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More than 7,500 hours have been volunteered by students & faculty so far

On December 14th of 2020, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were sent to South Carolina. The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control then began to organize a statewide vaccination strategy. DHEC contacted several state and federal partners to begin the process of getting those vaccines into the arms of residents. With more than 5.1 million people in South Carolina, the public health agency needed to act quickly and efficiently. One of the most valuable resources in the state was employed in the effort: the University of South Carolina College of Nursing.

The dean of the nursing school, Dr. Jeannette Andrews, placed a call to the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies for Nursing, Dr. Karen Worthy, to organize assistance with mass vaccination clinics across the state. The response from the school’s students and staff was almost immediate. One week into the spring semester, on January 19, 2021, 51 students arrived on the opening day of the Prisma Health Midlands vaccine site. But it was clear with the overwhelming number of community members signing up to get vaccinations, more medical volunteers would be needed to expedite the vaccination process. Over the course of the 2021 spring semester at USC, a total of 571 of their nursing students and 49 of their faculty members rose to the occasion, volunteering over 75 hundred hours at 9 different Midlands vaccine sites to date.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, most recently with the development of the new Delta variant of the virus. For that reason, SC DHEC is urging all students, ages 12 and up, to get vaccinated so they can protect themselves and others against the virus. The health agency notes that some schools and colleges are beginning their 2021-2022 school year in the coming weeks. Since the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for those ages 12 and older, recipients must wait at least three weeks to get their second dose. Maximum protection from the virus does not occur until two weeks after the second dose is administered, making a total of about five weeks to be fully vaccinated.

Dr. Worthy says that USC’s College of Nursing students and staff will continue to rise to the occasion for as long as they’re needed to help communities in South Carolina become fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. More information on vaccines available in South Carolina is available at https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine, with locations easily found at https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov/.

Linda Núñez is a South Carolina native, born in Beaufort, then moved to Columbia. She began her broadcasting career as a journalism student at the University of South Carolina. She has worked at a number of radio stations along the East Coast, but is now happy to call South Carolina Public Radio "home." Linda has a passion for South Carolina history, literature, music, nature, and cooking. For that reason, she enjoys taking day trips across the state to learn more about our state’s culture and its people.