Despite family loss, Richland County worker hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 11:42 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is being administered to front-line medical workers and the most vulnerable in South Carolina.

It’s part of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s stated goal of curbing death from the virus, which Johns Hopkins University reports stands at more than 306,000 people in the United States as of Dec. 16.

Three of those deaths were JT Thomas’s uncles.

“I was more worried about my pops. They had a big family, it was 16 of them. July the 6th there were 8. August 17th there were only 4 left.”

He went on to state:

“Just the pain in his voice was a bit much for me. I’m normally the backbone of the family but the pain in my pops voice, it was too much for me, I had to take a minute get myself together and just let him know we’re a praying family, we prayed together,” he said.

He works in Richland County and said despite family tragedy, he won’t be taking the vaccine immediately nor allowing his daughters to do so.

“You would call it overprotective, but I would call it, I’d rather being safe than sorry. They both have asthma, they are both allergic to a lot of different things,” he said.


Two cases of adverse reactions have been reported in the United Kingdom, and one case has been reported in Alaska.

In a fact sheet published in December, the FDA states:

You should not get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine if you:

  • had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine
  • had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine

It lists the ingredients as follows:

  • mRNA
  • lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
  • 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
  • 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol)
  • potassium chloride
  • monobasic potassium phosphate
  • sodium chloride
  • dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  • sucrose

In an interview for a Dec. 10 story, Prisma Health Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Edwin Hayes told WIS:

“You look at the treatments that are available for COVID-19, which have had a lot of questionable data – there hasn’t been a lot of compelling, reassuring data that we have a great cure at this point – versus the kind of treatments that we have available for some of these reactions that you can see to the vaccine. It does seem much more favorable, still at this point, to get the vaccine than to risk this ongoing pandemic coming to your doorstep,” he said.

Thomas said he will likely wait years before considering the vaccine, wanting to see more research on it.

The CDC and DHEC both keep running updates on the COVID-19 vaccine on their websites.

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