Health experts worry about societal impacts of vaccine hesitancy amid decline in demand

Health experts worry about societal impacts of vaccine hesitancy amid decline in demand

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Herd immunity is the goal when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, but with demand falling in recent weeks, some health experts worry if we will reach one of the most critical milestones in this pandemic.

A recent survey of the Charleston area showed about 30 percent of people who responded were reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccines, and about 15 percent were totally against the shots, according to the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I think how people are getting their information is affecting their beliefs and attitudes,” Dr. Michael Sweat said.

He’s cautioned about how vaccine hesitancy could impact society moving forward.

“There’s going to pressure to navigate the fact that a lot of people are going to be vaccinated and a substantial number may not be,” Sweat said. “It’s going to create tension and challenges for businesses and for individuals.”

There are concerns that this could lead to a very polarizing situation where those who are vaccinated are benefited in ways that unvaccinated individuals are not, and this becomes even more worrisome as vaccine demand has decreased.

In the span of a month, DHEC has reported a significant decline in the administration of first doses. On Mar. 20, more than 15,000 first doses were administered compared to just over 4,000 on Apr. 20.

Sweat urged caution about judging others for their vaccine hesitancy, but he stressed the important role the vaccines play in reaching herd immunity.

“I think people would really like to get away from having outbreaks in areas when you have to deal with stay-at-home orders businesses shutting, schools being impacted. All those kinds of things can continue to burn on if we have a substantial number of people who are unvaccinated,” Sweat said.

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