Eligibility plays key role in vaccination gaps between women, men in South Carolina

Eligibility plays key role in vaccination gaps between women, men in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – More women are being vaccinated over in South Carolina, but doctors said there’s a reason behind it.

The new demographic dashboard released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control showed a big gap between men and women who are getting vaccinated.

As of Feb. 15, which is the latest data provided on the dashboard, 319,633 women have received a vaccine while 208,144 men have been vaccinated.

During a Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday, members explained that eligibility plays a big role in the gap.

Dr. Divya Ahuja with Prisma Health said it’s because the majority of the healthcare workforce is women. He added that women tend to be a larger chunk of the population in nursing homes and also live longer.

These are all groups who are eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1a.

But committee members also explained that women tend to seek preventative healthcare over men.

Dr. Rick Foster with DHEC said it may be time to start thinking of a strategy to urge men in the state to get the vaccine.

“We need to think about, if we have a significant population of males over 65, and we may even more of this when we get below the 65 age, how do we go about marketing and communicating with that group because that can create a problem if we’re going to get to herd immunity if we have a significant number of males who are not getting vaccinated,” Foster explained.

State Epidemiologist Linda Bell agreed that there needs to be a campaign directed at men so that they are more willing to roll up their sleeves for the vaccines.

Bell added that vaccine eligibility is also playing a role in the disparities that we’re seeing in minority and ethnic communities. She said the limited eligibility is not providing a bigger picture. She hopes that once more people are eligible for the vaccine then DHEC can pinpoint where vaccine gaps are in the state.

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