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Lexington County companies team up to vaccinate seniors against COVID-19

Compliments of Post and Courier Columbia

WEST COLUMBIA — Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy watched proudly from her office window as a company security guard rushed out to help a woman with a hot pink walker from her vehicle into the West Columbia drug company’s headquarters. 

Having found the location on the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website, the woman was there to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Nephron, along with Cayce-based Dominion Energy and two Lexington County road sign companies, Stay Alert Safety Services and Optec Displays, are donating time and services to put on a free drive-thru vaccine clinic. Eligible participants, age 65 or older, must have an appointment to receive a shot.

“I’m so proud we can do this,” Kennedy said.

While the vaccine itself is free, providers are legally able to bill people or their insurance for the doctor or pharmacy visit. Nephron is not charging.

With about 30 nurses on staff and almost as many doctors of pharmacy, the West Columbia drug maker applied for the certification needed to give the shots and administered its first 500 doses to Lexington County seniors inside its building over the week of Feb. 1.

It has 1,000 more doses to start giving out on Feb. 8, this time without people having to get out of their vehicles in an effort to make recipients more comfortable, Kennedy said.

When she first had the idea, she called Keller Kissam, president of electric operations at Dominion Energy South Carolina, to ask if they could use the power company’s vehicle turnaround area. Dominion’s headquarters a 10-minute drive from Nephron.

“Keller didn’t even hesitate,” Kennedy said. “It was ‘What can we do? How do we help?’ You talk about community spirit.”

In addition to the drive-thru space, Dominion is providing power to the site to power the computers needed to make appointments for recipients’ second doses. Stay Alert, Optec, as well as the town and county of Lexington are providing signage.

Those wishing to receive a vaccine from Nephron can go online to DHEC’s website in order to sign up for an appointment.