Tecklenburg, MUSC chief recommend vaccines, masks

Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg and Dr. Patrick Cawley, the CEO of MUSC Health, stressed the ease and importance for the community to get vaccinated Thursday afternoon during a trip to MUSC’s Medical Pavilion in West Ashley.

“Contrary to just a couple months ago, it is extremely easy to get vaccinated,” Cawley said. With vaccine supplies now far exceeding the demand, Cawley said there is more than enough doses for everyone to get the stick.

However, the United States is now entering what some have called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” or what Tecklenburg called the first “optional pandemic” in human history.

“That’s right, folks — we have the option of ending this pandemic in our area,” he said in a press release. “All we have to do is get vaccinated. Would there still be a breakthrough case here and there? Sure. But it wouldn’t be a pandemic anymore.”

Just about every MUSC site, including the four in Charleston, offer vaccination services, as well as the Charleston Police Department station on Lockwood Drive, which accepts walk-ins.

Cawley stressed the vaccine is far safer than what some are saying, and that it is impossible to contract COVID-19 from it. He also said the long-term effects of infection should be a greater concern to the community than any short-term side effects from the vaccine.

“We want to get back to our normal activities, but you need to get vaccinated before the virus mutates again,” Cawley said. “It’s really that simple.”

Tecklenburg recommends the community adhere to CDC and DHEC guidance, including wearing masks indoors once again; he is now carrying a mask with him for the first time in months, he said. But at this time, he does not foresee imposing another mandate.