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McMaster urges private businesses to join vaccine effort

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Gov. Henry McMaster is urging private businesses to step up to become vaccination sites, saying that public health depends on everybody’s support.

On Tuesday, McMaster and wife Peggy visited a Dominion Energy facility off Interstate 77 in West Columbia that has become a drive-thru vaccination site in partnership with Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp.

“There’s no way that there will be enough sites to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated without having sites like this, companies like this, private individuals stepping up and playing their part,” McMaster said.

The West Columbia site has the capacity to serve 89 vehicles without waiting and so far has seen about 120 to 150 a day, with Nephron owner and CEO Lou Kennedy saying her goal is to reach 300 a day. Nephron’s staff of registered nurses, pharmacists and doctors are on site to support and perform the by-appointment-only inoculations.

Kennedy, who noted people have come to the site from as far away as North Augusta, said her first call after having the idea for the vaccination site was to McMaster, who immediately came on board. She then called Keller Kissam, Dominion South Carolina’s president of electric operations.

Within 24 hours, the site had power to chill vaccines, shelter from inclement weather and cones and signs donated by the community, Kennedy said.

“I think we can do a lot of things for the good in the private sector,” she said. “We want to help the government, we want to help take the stress and strain off the hospitals and clinics, and this is an example of doing just that. I hope to see this across the private sector across the whole state.”

Business owners looking for information on how to become a vaccination site can visit the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s new COVID-19 Business Vaccine information page.

The page answers frequently asked questions and offers phase breakdowns and information on when employees will be eligible, along with a survey to help estimate the number of workers who need a vaccine.

“This is a perfect example of what we call Team South Carolina,” McMaster said. “Our people who work together, who know each other and trust each other, are willing to work together for the good of our people.”

McMaster encouraged businesses in rural areas and densely populated communities to get involved with vaccination efforts.

“We know the government is not big enough and never will be big enough to do all that needs to be done,” McMaster said. “That is why in everything we do, we depend on private businesses, private citizens and those that want to lend a hand to jump in and get to work, and that’s exactly what Dominion and Nephron have done here.”

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