‘If I get coronavirus, I’m dead’: SC trying to get vaccine to those who can’t leave home

CHESTER, S.C. — Bill Lyons got injured in a fall more than 20 years ago. The Chester man uses a wheelchair and has other significant health problems.

“If I get the coronavirus, I am dead,” Lyons told Channel 9. “There’s no doubt.”

However, getting an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine has been impossible for the 66-year-old. He has trouble using a computer and doesn’t have an easy way to get to an appointment -- even if he was able to schedule one.

“As soon as I found out the vaccine was available, I wanted to get it,” Lyons said. “I don’t have any family or friends to take me.”

Lyons reached out to the health department, the local hospital and other places, but said he didn’t get help until he contacted Channel 9 on Tuesday.

He calls a transportation service, Chester Connector, when he needs groceries or to see his doctor, but that wasn’t working to get the vaccine shot.

“It’s just frustrating, all the way around,” Lyons said.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has been developing a plan to get the vaccine to people who want it but have trouble leaving their homes. Last month, DHEC sent an e-mail to all 46 county emergency management offices in the state, asking for help.

“SCEMD and DHEC are building a plan to vaccinate homebound residents in Phase 1B,” the letter read, in part. “We are working in coordination with the Department on Aging to accurately account for all homebound residents, but we also need your help.”

The letter identifies what “homebound” means and relies on local senior organizations to find people who would be good candidates for the service.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

With Phase 1B beginning on Monday in South Carolina, local emergency management agencies are putting together lists of people so DHEC officials can get them the shot -- in their own homes.

That could be a lifesaver for people like Lyons, who feel like they’ve slipped through the cracks.

Fortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, MUSC Hospital gave Lyons a call and scheduled him to get the vaccine later this month.

>> For the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates and information, click here.

You can find vaccine provider locations by using scdhec.gov/vaxlocator to see locations accepting appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. Pick a location and call the phone number listed to make an appointment. The map itself is not a way to schedule an appointment.

Calling DHEC’s Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 for help finding contact information you need to make an appointment. The Care Line can’t schedule an appointment but can give you phone numbers for locations you can call to make an appointment.