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Only 30% of CCU students report they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, despite incentives

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 7:56 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Despite the chance to win scholarships, only 30% of Coastal Carolina University students have confirmed to the school that they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

In August before move-in, CCU officials announced a voluntary vaccine incentive program to encourage students to get vaccinated and reward those who already are. Students who submit their vaccine information to the university would be entered to win a scholarship.

As of Tuesday morning, the school just passed the 30% mark for students reporting that they are vaccinated. Many more could be vaccinated and have just yet to enter to win the scholarships. But there’s no way to know just how many more have gotten their doses.

“This is a good start considering that students voluntarily submit their COVID-19 vaccination records. However, the goal is to get as close to 100% as possible,” CCU’s James Solazzo, who is leading the Vax to the Max Incentives Program, told WMBF News in a statement.

Statewide, DHEC data shows the vaccine rate for South Carolinians sits right around 49%, which the school reports the faculty vaccine rate is on par with, also at 49%.

Across the state and in Horry County, the 12-19 and 20-24 age groups are by far the lowest vaccinated groups, according to DHEC data.

Vaccinated student Devin Davis said he was honestly shocked to hear those numbers.

“I’m actually surprised it’s actually that high,” he said. “Because everyone I know, they’re not getting it. They’re saying they’re ‘strong enough to get through it’ or like they already had it, or anything, they just don’t understand it’s, this is different than the first strand from last year. So I’m actually surprised it’s that high.”

Cameron Thompson, who’s also vaccinated, said he’s not sure what’s holding his peers back now that the vaccine is proven to be safe.

“I know one of my roommates said it was because it wasn’t FDA approved, but I know it is now so he said when he went back for winter break he might get it. So I know some people might not be because of that reason, but honestly I haven’t heard any other reasons why they haven’t gotten it,” Thompson said.

Thompson also said he thinks the school needs to do more to promote the vaccine, which CCU said they have plans to do.

They have already held one COVID-19 vaccination clinic earlier this month, and officials said 55 students received a dose that day. They added another clinic is in the process of being planned with DHEC.

“Starting next week, promotions will gear up even stronger with buttons, signage, a large banner, electronic boards, and a web promotion on the University’s main web front page,” said Solazzo.

At Francis Marion University, officials report anywhere between 25-30% of students have entered into their vaccine incentive program. It’s also voluntary, so it does not paint a full picture of how many more could have gotten vaccinated but not reported it.

Meanwhile, Coker University is reporting a jump in student vaccinations. Officials there said last month 39% of students were vaccinated. However, after the private university decided to mandate vaccines in order to build up to removing the mask mandate, now 71% of students there are vaccinated against the virus.

Incentives aside, Thompson explained how getting the vaccine was important to him.

“I knew I wanted to be safe from it myself. That was my incentive in itself,” he said.

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