On Feb. 1, 2021 the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center opened a portion of its new North Charleston VA Outpatient Clinic, located at 6450 Rivers Ave., to serve as a temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Veterans.
Full clinic operations are scheduled to open summer 2021, but in the interim, the Charleston VA is making use of this space to efficiently and effectively vaccinate Veterans ages 70-years-old and older. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and eligible Veterans can make an appointment by calling 843-789-6900.
“Our plan at this North Charleston clinic is to vaccinate about 5,000 Veterans this week,” said Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Director & CEO Scott Isaacks. “Our downtown medical center campus is pretty tight, but here at this new clinic we have plenty of parking and space to move Veterans through the vaccination process quickly. We exist to serve Veterans and as supply increases, we want to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to as many Veterans as we can. We’ve been able to get creative with this new building and organize it in a way to get the COVID-19 vaccine to our Veterans.”
When Veterans entered the building on Monday, Feb. 1, their temperatures were taken and then they checked-in at a kiosk or with a clerk just inside the entrance. They were then given a clip board with some paperwork and ushered to A, B or C pod. Each pod had 20 socially distanced spaced chairs. Once the 20 chairs were full of Veterans, a nurse walked the group of Veterans through the paperwork, how to fill it out and any potential side effects they could expect following their shot. Each Veteran was also told when to return for their second dose. After the nurses’ presentation, several nurses walked throughout the pod to vaccinate the Veterans. Following the vaccine, a timer was set for 15 minutes to ensure no Veterans had immediate adverse reactions; once cleared they were led out the side door. From start to finish the process for vaccination lasted less than 30 minutes for most Veterans.
“I feel very special and I thank these people for continuing to support our Veterans,” said Don Breeding, a 74-year-old Army Veteran who drove from Pawley’s Island, S.C. “This clinic has been very busy, but appointments are scheduled and everyone I see coming out is smiling.”
Breeding shared that he has a daughter who has been sick in the hospital for four months, so he was eager to get his vaccination so he could visit her in the hospital.
“Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I feel better. I feel safe,” said Breeding.
As of Feb. 2, 2021, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has administered more than 8,000 vaccines and has equipment on hand to accommodate storage of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“We were approved to be one of the first VA facilities to distribute both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and we are eager to get the vaccine to as many Veterans as possible,” said Isaacks. “Our goal is to distribute vaccines as quickly as we can and as soon as they arrive.”
Veterans who have already received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center located at 109 Bee Street in downtown Charleston, should return to that same location for their second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 28 days after their first dose. Veterans can locate the date of their first dose of the vaccine on their Vaccination Card. Any Veterans who have already been contacted by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and have a scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment, should keep the date and time of that appointment at the location scheduled.
For more information about vaccine eligibility and administration at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center visit www.charleston.va.gov. For Veterans who are not currently enrolled in the VA, please call our eligibility office at 843-789-7008 or visit our eligibility website https://www.charleston.va.gov/patients/eligibility.asp.