What to Expect: Vaccine Rollout and Return to Normal

As we pass the one-year mark of COVID-19, Patrick Downes, Dr. Brian Whirrett and Robert Tuttle of East Cooper Medical Center joined us to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in our community, how their hospital has been affected, as well as what we can expect with vaccinations over the next few months.

Featured Speakers:

  • Patrick Downes, CEO, East Cooper Medical Center
  • Robert Tuttle, MBA, R.Ph., Clinical Ancillary Services Director
  • Brian Whirrett, MD, Hospitalist Medical Director

We all know the impacts that COVID has had on the world, our nation and our communities. At East Cooper Medical Center, they have spent the last year treating those with the virus and now are focused on ensuring that people are able to get vaccinated.

Dr. Brian Whirrett noted that even a year later, there is still discrepancy in the medical field about how to treat COVID. But one thing that is known is that preventing transmission is imperative, and one of the ways to do so is through vaccination.

As of right now in South Carolina, 23% of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine and 12% of the population is fully vaccinated – we still have a long way to go.

What you need to know about vaccination:


Phase 1b: started March 8

  • Individuals 55+
  • Frontline workers with increased occupational risk
  • Individuals at increased risk in settings where people are living and working in close contact
  • All workers in healthcare and community health setting who have routine, direct patient contact and were not vaccinated in Phase 1a
  • Individuals with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease

Phase 1c: ~April 12

  • Individuals aged 45+
  • Essential workers – work in essential job categories as defined by the CDC who are not included in phase 1b because they do not have frequent, close contact with others in the work environment

Phase 2: May 3

  • All South Carolinians 16 and above


Many people have concerns about how the development of the vaccine was accelerated while ensuring safety. Robert Tuttle ensured that the vaccine was safe and he explained the process for the accelerated timeline. Researchers used existing clinical trial networks to begin trials. Manufacturing started while the trials were still underway. Normally, manufacturing would not begin until after the trials are completed; additionally, mRNA vaccines are faster to produce than traditional ones. Finally, review, authorization and recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines was top priority for the FDA and CDC.

If you are trying to make an appointment to get vaccinated, East Cooper Medical Center holds a vaccination clinic every week on Fridays. Open appointments are usually posted on Wednesday mornings around 9 a.m.

You can also contact them and get your name put on a list to be contacted if there are any doses left over at the end of the clinic that need to be administered.

You can also visit VaccineFinder to locate COVID-19 vaccines near you.

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