Health officials see decrease in demand for vaccine despite open eligibility

Updated: Apr. 2, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been two days since those 16 and older could get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

DHEC officials said during a briefing on Friday that expanding vaccine access to millions of South Carolinians has gone smoothly.

However, despite more people being eligible for the vaccine, they still aren’t seeing all available appointments being filled.

PREVIOUS STORY | Everyone 16 and older in SC can now get the COVID-19 vaccine

“We may be headed towards, in some areas at least, slightly more supply than demand based on appointment availability over the last couple of days throughout the state,” DHEC’s Interim Director Dr. Brannon Traxler said.

Traxler said their big message is if you’re eligible, don’t wait to get vaccinated.

“I urge you now is the time to go ahead and step up and roll your sleeve up and get that shot in your arm,” Traxler said. “Let’s get going to that herd immunity because we’re going to need a lot more people to get vaccinated for that to occur, and I know we all want to get to that point.”

Looking ahead to Easter weekend, Traxler said it’s still a good idea to take precautions if you’re traveling or getting together with family.

She said those who are fully vaccinated can safely gather indoors with those who have been unvaccinated from one other household without having to social distance or wear a mask.

Further, the CDC lifted some of their travel restrictions for those fully vaccinated today, including the testing and self-quarantine requirements.

However, Traxler warned the state won’t be fully protected until millions more receive their vaccination and the state reaches herd immunity.

“We are still advising folks that this virus is still out there and so to use caution, whether it’s their break or Easter weekend activities,” Traxler said.

Officials said when it comes to supply, things can still change from week to week. 15 million doses of the Jansen vaccine were ruined due to a mix-up of ingredients at a factory in Baltimore, which is something DHEC officials say could make the supply of the Jansen vaccine vary from week to week in the future.

“These 15 million destroyed cases from the Jensen manufacturer are kind of a prime example of how this vaccine availability can vary and become limited week to week without a lot of advance notice,” Traxler said.

Dr. Traxler said this should is an example that the system is working and that no corners are being cut when it comes to safety of the vaccine.

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