GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - it’s a new twist to DHEC’s mission to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to people and communities across the Palmetto State in innovative ways.
The agency announced Wednesday during their regular briefing that new campaigns could see vaccine clinics established in places like state parks, breweries, and more.
Fox Carolina spoke to a local brewery and gathered more information from DHEC, who says these new initiatives are aimed at young adults in particular.
According to DHEC’s vaccine tracker, less than 15,000 South Carolinians aged 20-24 have gotten the Covid vaccine.
The agency says they plan to use new partnerships to incentivize people in that age range and beyond to get vaccinated, and local establishments we spoke to say they are on board with that.
Dr. Brannon Traxler says that above all, the new DHEC vaccine rollout policies are aimed at making the vaccine more accessible to everyone.
“We are certainly hoping that by bringing the vaccine to the social events where these young adults are congregating, it will help us with the effort to get them vaccinated," she told reporters at a DHEC briefing Wednesday afternoon.
The agency is partnering with the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and with groups like the Brewers Guild of South Carolina to get it done.
“We just need to continue to remind people – that they are still vulnerable, they are not invincible," Traxler said.
Fox Carolina went straight to the source to see if businesses would actually be on board with something like this.
“What we are noticing is that people are feeling more comfortable coming out, and that is partially due to vaccines," said Carlos Gonzalez, bar lead at Birds Fly South Ale Project in Greenville.
Gonzalez says that last year was tough, but that thanks to re-opening, which has been aided by the vaccine, the brewery he works at full time is getting back on its feet.
“During the pandemic, we were actually able to stay open and retain all of our staff because we started producing hand sanitizer,” he explained, emphasizing how tough a time it was.
He says that since this initiative was announced by DHEC, Birds Fly South already signed on to be a vaccine clinic hub.
They will be offering free beer to anyone who gets a shot at the clinic that will be set up at the brewery starting June 12th.
“One of our mottos here at the brewery is: ‘be a community, grow a community,’ so if we can be a part of helping DHEC achieve that goal, then we are all for it," Gonzalez said.
He says more people getting vaccinated will also translate to better business and more profits overall.
“I think it’s a good idea," said Logan Nelson, a young adult living in Greenville who is part of DHEC’s target age demographic. “I think it’s a way to make vaccines accessible; go to where people are hanging out, and hopefully promote getting vaccinated to get back to normal."
Nelson says he himself is already fully vaccinated, but also adds that he definitely sees the merit of this incentivized program.
“If I had trouble getting vaccine, if I didn’t know where to go or didn’t have all the information, something like this makes vaccines accessible,” he said.
Some of the federal COVID-19 relief funds given to DHEC will help pay for this statewide campaign. The agency says they’ve also reached out to groups that put on local state festivals and cities across the state, even minor-league baseball teams to help them as well.