"If you have questions about it, we're here to answer them, and we're not going to be judgemental," said Dottie's Pharmacy owner Dottie Farfone. | Photo by Keller James Photography

Dottie’s Pharmacy on James Island has seen a noticeable increase in vaccine appointments and COVID-19 testing over the last several weeks. Prior to the recent rise in cases, Dottie’s Pharmacy was doing about five vaccine appointments per day — now it’s up to around 40.

“We have a mobile lab in our parking lot, which has enabled us to do rapid COVID testing and PCR testing since the beginning of the pandemic,” said owner Dottie Farfone. “The number of people coming for COVID tests dropped down for a while obviously, but now we’re back to equal numbers of tests per day, if not more than we were doing during the height of 2020.”

Aside from testing services, Dottie’s Pharmacy also offers all three vaccines currently available. To encourage vaccinations, they’ve partnered with businesses, homeless shelters and local organizations, like James Island Outreach and Barrier Island Clinic, bringing their mobile operation on-site. 

For some, the issue of getting vaccinated is simply more about scheduling. People with jobs and children may have a difficult time finding opportunities to get the shot during business hours, which is why Farfone says they’ve been adamant about mobile vaccine clinics at people’s place of work, making it more convenient for those with busy schedules. She says many companies are even offering incentives to their employees, like extra vacation days, if they get vaccinated.

For others, the adversity to vaccines has more to do with uncertainty about potential long-term side effects. “Mostly it was people waiting to see what kind of effects that other people were going to have from the vaccines,” said Farfone. 

But she encourages people who are fearful of adverse reactions to talk to their pharmacists on staff. “Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers in our country,” she said. “If you have questions about it, we’re here to answer them, and we’re not going to be judgmental.”

Farfone believes more people who were previously skeptical will feel more comfortable getting the stick now that the Pfizer vaccine is fully FDA-approved.

“We just want to get as many vaccines in as many people as we can to try and end this pandemic,” she said.