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Essential workers get vaccinated at Continental Tire plant

Around 290 of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccines were given out.

SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — Almost 300 employees at the Continental Tire plant in Sumter, along with some of their family members, got the COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic on Thursday. Some of those essential workers were excited to take their place in line.

"We're creating the tires getting the vaccine to places it needs to go, right? So, it was just a big thing for us to be recognized as essential personal," Continental Tire warehouse manager Erica Carpenter said.

Carpenter said coming to work during the pandemic was a bit nerve-wracking at times. "All of last year and part of this year we've been struggling and we had anxiety," Carpenter said.

But now that she is vaccinated, she feels safer.

"For me it's a personal thing because I have a 5-year-old at home and it was just able to give us more peace of mind and put us at ease," Carpenter said.

Carpenter's husband also was able to get his shot.

"My husband, who is also in the 1b category, was able to come get it today, so that was amazing for us and we are so grateful," Carpenter said.

The Vice President of Manufacturing, Benny Harmse, said this was all able to come together with the partnership of their facility and Prisma Health in Sumter.

"We provided what we could with hand sanitizer, social distancing, but the vaccine is the ultimate, now people can come to work and feel comfortable and safe, and that's really important," Harmse said.

"We want to keep our people happy, healthy, and working," Governor Henry McMaster said.

McMaster took a visit to the vaccine clinic at Continental and said he hopes this could be a model for other large scale plants.

Around 290 of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccines were given out.

"This is a good example of why South Carolina is doing well," McMaster said. "Our people work together, we know business is South Carolina's business, and having this company work here, and having them available, and have this activity here is very important."

The leaders at Continental hope to do more vaccine events like this in the future.