SC in bottom 10 among states in adult vaccinations; DHEC says they are targeting key groups

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 8:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Fewer than 50 percent of all people 18 and older in South Carolina have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.

This puts South Carolina in the same group of 10 others states, but at the higher end with 49.1 percent of adults having gotten a shot, according to CNN’s count.

“It’s slowed down but it is still progressing,” said Department of Health and Environmental Control Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly.

Kelly said last Friday DHEC’s Columbia mass vaccination site saw one of its busiest days so far and the agency has a plan to keep steadily increasing the state’s vaccination rate.

“Focusing on specific subgroups- trying to understand more about why some people are vaccine-hesitant. For some, it may just be apathy,” Kelly said.

One group Kelly said her team is focusing on is people ages 20-24.

Young adults in that age group have received 13,920 doses as of Tuesday, according to the DHEC dashboard. But that is less than four times fewer than the 54,790 doses given among 12 to 19-year-olds, which is surprising to some because children ages 12 to 15 have only been eligible for the vaccine for about a week.

“Parents are concerned about their children,” Kelly explained. “They want to make sure their children, their teenagers are safe from COVID-19. But the slightly older young adults still feel immortal.”

For school-aged teens, Dr. Kelly said DHEC is looking into hosting vaccine clinics in areas where parents and kids traditionally congregate and offering them some free swag for getting the shot like t-shirts and backpacks.

However, young adults who may feel that they don’t need to worry about the virus are a bit more difficult to convince.

“We have some exciting conversations right now looking at what other states are doing about incentives,” Kelly said

In the past, Kelly has said DHEC isn’t planning on giving people free money to take the shot, but they have a few plans in the works they hope to release soon.

Kelly’s hope is that the two trends the state is seeing now hold steady stay: vaccinations going up and infections going down.

“It’s good news that our numbers are going down. We are all a little nervous about the lifting of mask mandates and masks being optional in schools, but in terms of vaccinations that’s probably the single most important mitigation measure,” she said.

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