Key demographics on those who have received COVID-19 vaccine still unavailable in S.C.

SC lacks demographic data for vaccine

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - As South Carolina forges ahead with distributing the vaccine, leaders with the Department of Health and Environmental Control have said they’re working to administer it fairly.

But statistics that might help further prove this aren’t available at this time.

Over the course of the pandemic, DHEC has provided a number of data sets to give a better picture of who the virus is affecting, and in which communities. But knowing who’s actually getting the vaccine to help fight against this virus is data we don’t have access to yet.

Meanwhile, some of South Carolina’s border states have been successfully presenting data like this for weeks.

State and federal public health experts say people of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus while having higher rates of vaccine hesitancy. But at this time, there are no metrics to show how well South Carolina has done so far at combatting this.

WMBF Investigates asked DHEC if they’re tracking data, such as racial background and age, and how we can review it.

DHEC replied this will be made available, but not yet.

“This new vaccine dashboard will be launched shortly in the coming weeks and will provide a more complete overview of vaccine administration across the state,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim director of public health, said.

DHEC said this dashboard would include “demographic breakdowns for those vaccinated (age range, gender, racial and ethnic background) as well as geographic information at the county-level for individuals vaccinated.”

Data similar to this can be found online for states such as North Carolina and Tennessee. Both states’ dashboards were launched back in December.

Tennessee’s dashboard is able to get as specific as the number of those vaccinated by each race and ethnic group. For North Carolina, you can fan over a map to display the number of vaccine administered, county-by-county.

Florida is a state that doesn’t necessarily have an interactive dashboard but presents a demographic analysis of vaccinations for each county regularly.

DHEC officials said their dashboard will pull data from not only VAMS but Tiberius (the federal database being used for long-term care vaccinations) and SIMON, South Carolina’s statewide system that collects demographics daily.

WMBF Investigates followed up with a DHEC spokesperson to ask why South Carolina still doesn’t have this data available yet.

They gave essentially the same answer as what was said during Wednesday’s media briefing: that it’s in the works.

After pressing for more specifics, they reiterated “our dashboard is still being finalized.”

DHEC also referred WMBF Investigates to what South Carolina does make public: such as vaccine allocations by facility, which some other states might not provide.

WMBF Investigates will continue to follow up with DHEC on when these statistics will be made available.

Copyright 2021 WMBF. All rights reserved.