News 19 WLTX: Nephron sees interest in vaccination drive-thru rise as Phase 1b opens

March 9, 2021

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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nephron Pharmaceuticals saw an increase in the number of people interested in signing up for an appointment as Phase 1b opened up on Monday.

For the past month, the company has partnered with Dominion Energy to open up a drive-thru vaccination site. It’s located off of Exit 2 on Interstate 77 in West Columbia.

The site is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., with vaccinations available by appointment only.

Frances Musselwhite, who lives in Aiken, traveled to the site to get her second dose of the vaccine. Initially, when access to the vaccine was hard to find, she said getting an appointment at any location in Aiken was a nightmare.

“I’m in Aiken County and Aiken had absolutely no vaccine in the entire time that I was looking,” Musselwhite said. “I just kept hunting and hunting, and finally a friend of mine called me and said I just heard that this is opened up.”

While she’s finished with the vaccine process herself, she’ll be coming back on Friday to help schedule an appointment for her mother since they couldn’t get appointments on the same day. 

Musslewhite says everything has been fine with her vaccination experience with Nephron and the people have been sweet.

William Hogan lives in the Midlands. He also received his second dose of the vaccine on Monday.

“I don’t want COVID,” said Hogan. “I think it’s important for everybody to come out and get it if you don’t want to get sick. If you just want to chance it … I know a lot that are. I didn’t feel like being one of them.”

When people drive up to get the vaccine, they will stay in their car throughout the whole process. Once people check in at the front, they’ll drive to the vaccination site to receive the vaccine from a registered nurse and they’ll pull over to another area to wait 15 minutes to make sure someone is not having any allergic reactions to the vaccine.

During the 15 minute wait period, people will be able to schedule their second dose of the vaccine.

Stephanie Simmonds, Chief Clinical Officer for Nephron Pharmaceuticals, says everything has been going well since they opened up the site.

“We’ve increased our volumes every day. We’ve been able to get more vaccine from DHEC sent to us. We just received another shipment this morning,” said Simmonds. “We’re ready to take on the Phase 1b.”

The Chief Clinical Officer says they’ve been able to schedule appointments that don’t require people to wait a long time in line at the site.

Nephron is able to vaccinate around 200 people each day. They’re hoping to increase that number to 300.

On Monday, those in Phase 1b were able to start receiving their coronavirus vaccine.

“Today we’ve had a rapid increase in calls into our call-center,” Simmonds said. “Lots of interest that’s getting communicated. People are able to get in touch with us. We have a call center to manage those calls so we’re able to answer everyone as quickly as we can and provide the information they need.”

Simmonds says they’re glad they can do their part to help vaccinate the community.

“We just really want to make it available for South Carolina and open up to be able to vaccinate as many people as possible,” said Simmonds. “We knew that as a manufacture, we’re good at process flow and we’re able to implement good ways to get people through in and out in a safe manner and we wanted to make that happen.”