ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - South Carolina continues phase 1A of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, giving first priority to healthcare workers and those over the age of 70.
The high demand for the vaccine is leading to a slower rollout than some had hoped for, but Saturday in Anderson County more than 500 community members got their first dose.
The Anderson Civic Center has for the most part been empty over the course of the pandemic, but on Saturday it was the host of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
George Eichler was one of the around 500 people who received their first dose of the vaccine at the Civic Center on Saturday.
"Well hopefully we're getting close to having a normal life, that's the main thing we all look forward to," he said.
A partnership between AnMed Health and Anderson County made the vaccination clinic possible, as South Carolina gets deeper into phase 1A of its vaccine rollout plan.
"The quicker we get this out the quicker we can see an improvement in the number of COVID-19 patients that are in our community. With that being said, regardless of how quickly we may want it there are processes that we have to follow to maintain safety while we give the vaccine," said Stephan Jones, with the AnMed Health Performance and Process Improvement Department
To keep up with social distancing and because supply of the vaccine is limited, the clinic was appointment only for the 500 plus people who got the shot.
AnMed officials say appointments for Saturday were fully booked within hours.
As a matter of fact, all appointments for a vaccine through the end of the month at the health system have already been booked.
Eichler says the first dose was painless and "very nice" to have.
"Safety, want to get as much protection as we can get," he explains. "I've seen enough people get these vaccinations that I know it's a necessity."
According to DHEC, the state has received more than 300,000 doses of the vaccine but has only administered 155,000 of those.
Health officials want people to remain patient, with hopes that events like Saturday's clinic can help speed up the rate of vaccinations.
"It has worked very well, it has been an overwhelming response from the community. Very positive comments from those who have gone through the process and we look forward to having these in the future," said Jones.
The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses given three weeks apart.
AnMed officials say the people who got their first shot at the clinic on Saturday made appointments while there for their second shot in a few weeks.