South Carolina health officials continue to urge individuals to choose to get vaccinated

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FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, Dr. Yomaris Pena, Internal Medicine Physician with Somos Community Care at a COVID-19 extracts the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine out of a vial at a vaccination site at the Corsi Houses in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York. U.S. health regulators have authorized extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from the virus. The announcement Thursday, Aug. 12. by the Food and Drug Administration applies to millions of Americans who take immune-suppressing medicines because of organ transplants, cancer or other disorders.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

With new variants of concern emerging, including the lambda and mu variants of COVID-19, getting more people vaccinated in South Carolina is a major concern for DHEC.

Currently, just under 49 percent of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated with more than 57 percent with at least one dose of vaccine. 

Public health director Dr. Brannon Traxler also advises people to get the flu shot in order to help preserve limited hospital capacity in the state.

She also confirms that booster doses for immunocompromised individuals are going out to also help keep new COVID case numbers down.

Even so, she says ending the pandemic comes down to people’s personal choices.

“We’re very satisfied with DHEC’s vaccination efforts, from the campaigns that are targeting younger demographics to outreach to different communities throughout the state,” said Dr. Traxler. “I think we’re at a point now where incentives and public endorsements may not usurp personal choice. While we’ll certainly continue to work very hard on the various forms of outreach, we know that sharing clear and accurate facts are the best way to reach the public. We want them to talk to friends and family that have been vaccinated, do their own research using accurate, fact based research and make decisions based on that information.”

Dr. Traxler says the state has seen a slight uptick in vaccination rates compared to the summer months, but says more progress needs to be made.

DHEC has also recommended to the state that the proviso prohibiting mask mandates in schools should be changed to allow districts to make that decision.

While the C.1.2 variant of COVID 19 can now be found in several countries, she says it is not yet a concern in the Palmetto State.

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