Santee-Lynches offers COVID-19 vaccine info at bingo sessions, socials for seniors


Having access to accurate, reliable information is critical for making informed decisions about your daily life. A local community advocacy group is working with Sumter's older population to ensure the pipeline to that access remains unbroken.

Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments is seeking to help better inform and prepare seniors with information about the COVID-19 vaccinations, and the group is doing so via a VAC5 grant from the S.C. Department on Aging.

The COG brainstormed ways to connect with the seniors in our communities and landed on the idea of Midday Senior Socials with the promise of fun times with COVID-19-themed bingo, the chance to win gift cards and opportunity to hear from state public health representatives on the statistics regarding the virus in South Carolina.

To better serve the senior residents of the counties of Clarendon, Kershaw, Sumter and Lee, COG members packed bags with leaflets of information, hand sanitizer and masks and offered a chance to congregate and ask questions pertaining to the vaccines. With COVID-19 restrictions in mind, the number in attendance was limited to 25 to minimize the risk of exposure. Lunch was provided by Mill Street Grill of Manning.

On Sept. 28 at Catchall Community Center, Sept. 29 at Cherryvale Community Center, Oct. 6 at Delaine Community Center and Oct. 13 at Delaine Community Center, COG members met with seniors to play bingo and provide some much-needed information. With so many changes because of the virus that rose to prominence in March 2020, a return to a relative normalcy with the familiar game of bingo was much appreciated. A member of the audience at the social held at Delaine expressed extreme gratitude for the event because, as she put it, "older folks are often forgotten." Soon after, she led the audience in a song expressing the collective joy and appreciation.

"The COVID Midday Senior Social events were a success due to the teamwork and collaboration between the Area Council on Aging (AAA) and SLCOG Administration staff," COG Chief of Health and Human Services Janae Stowe said. "Our goal was to emphasize the importance of our seniors receiving vaccinations while having fun. The guest speaker from DHEC, bingo, prizes and lunch with the seniors did just that. Both the seniors and staff had a blast."

The grant conditions included: disseminate credible information about COVID-19 vaccines and help direct those with questions to additional sources of information; identify people who may need help getting a COVID-19 vaccination, including those who are unable to independently travel to a vaccination site; help with scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment for those who need help; arrange or provide accessible transportation to COVID-19 vaccination sites; provide technical assistance to local health departments and other entities on vaccine accessibility; provide personal support if needed (e.g., peer support); and remind the person of his or her second vaccination appointment if needed.

From all the socials held in September and October, the COG distributed 144 sanitizers and 516 masks and served 95 lunch plates.

About Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments

An organization that aims to equip local communities to achieve their full potential. Member provide resources and connect groups with opportunities and local government programs to enhance quality of life and economic development in Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw counties.