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DHEC encouraging South Carolinians to get vaccinated, take precautions for holidays

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 8:11 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 9:14 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the holiday season approaches, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging South Carolinians to take precautions against COVID-19 before and as they celebrate, citing spikes in cases following previous holidays throughout the pandemic.

“We’re not out of the woods,” DHEC State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “Substantially, transmission throughout the state is still very significant, and it’s a great worry as we are seeing a slow in that decline in cases.”

People who are unvaccinated cannot be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving next week, but they can get full protection in time for Christmas next month.

At this point, Americans 5 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine, after the FDA and CDC recently authorized the Pfizer’s shots use for 5-to-11-year-old children.

“That is really the best and most effective means to protect us as we move into the holiday seasons,” Bell said.

The White House announced Wednesday that at least 2.6 million kids in the 5-to-11-year-old age group had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the first two weeks of its availability, representing about 10% of that group’s population across the country.

DHEC reports that as of last Thursday, nearly 11,000 South Carolinian kids in that age group had gotten their first shot, out of about 436,000 children total in that range.

Bell said the first two weeks of the Pfizer shot being available to those children has gone smoothly, for the most part.

“Some providers did experience some glitches,” she said. “We know that there were some difficulties with finding vaccinations online for some people. However, for the most part, we feel that those vaccine providers who had vaccine available, who had received the training, who were prepared to provide the dosing from the new packaging for that age group, that it, for the most part, went off seamlessly.”

Bell said vaccines are readily available for all eligible South Carolinians and that the pediatric rollout is going “smoothly.”

“So please don’t let any small barriers get in the way of getting our children protected as quickly as possible,” she said.

DHEC is also recommending anyone traveling or going to someone else’s home for Thanksgiving get tested for COVID by Saturday so they know by the holiday if they are safe to go.

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