BACK ON THE RISE: State health officials urge South Carolinians to exercise caution over Thanksgiving break as COVID cases increase

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) Millions are South Carolinians are gathering with loved ones this Thanksgiving. However, with only around 58 percent of the state’s eligible population vaccinated, it creates a worry for health officials.

“I know at this point it may sound like a broken record, but we don’t know how else to say it. Vaccinations are what is going to help us protect ourselves, each other and beat COVID-19,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director. “We need everyone on board if we’re going to finally end this pandemic.”

Dr. Traxler calls for everyone eligible to get vaccinated. Everyone over the age of 5 is now eligible to get a vaccine.

She also reminds those who are fully vaccinated to get their booster shot after recently updated CDC guidance.

“This updated recommendation now calls for all adults ages 18 and up who received any of the three brands as an initial series to be eligible to get a booster shot,” the public health director said.

Vaccinations are particularly important after last week saw an increase in cases from the previous week’s totals. This came after 10 consecutive weeks of declining numbers of COVID cases.

“I don’t want to hit the panic button but we are strongly encouraging South Carolinians to continue the safety protocols that helped us drive the numbers down from that high point back in September,” Traxler said.

She says you can still gather with family for the holidays, but encourages still following preventative measures against the virus.

“Please continue to wear your masks, stay a safe distance away from others when possible and also when possible gather outdoors when you’re in groups, particularly large groups,” Traxler said.

The public health director says it takes about a week to start to see the impact of an event on COVID case numbers… but says the situation is different than last year.

“If we increase our masking and vaccination, hopefully we won’t see a significant spike in cases,” she said. “If we don’t practice those protocols, chances are we’ll see a spike, though it is still difficult to determine how soon and how significant.”

Dr. Traxler says you should get your booster shot six months after your last Pfizer or Moderna dose or two months if you received the J&J vaccine.

Categories: Local News, Richland