Health officials anticipate drop in vaccine enthusiasm

Health officials anticipate drop in vaccine enthusiasm
Health officials anticipate drop in vaccine enthusiasm (Source: Drew Aunkst)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Health experts are expressing concern that South Carolina’s fight against COVID-19 could hit a huge roadblock due to the low demand for vaccines.

As of Wednesday, 39.8% of South Carolinians have received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That percentage falls short of the 80% experts say need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

“It is still a challenge, we are still on this treadmill to get there with getting herd immunity,” Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said.

Mass vaccination sites in South Carolina, like the one at Columbia Place Mall, are seeing lower numbers than expected.

“We can have these all day long we can have this run all year long, it doesn’t matter if people aren’t showing up to this or maybe to an appointment they set up with their provider,” Brandon Lavorgna with SCEMD said. “If they’re not getting the shot in the arm it will not matter.”

Health experts believe the lack of demand could give dangerous coronavirus variants the opportunity to continue to mutate. It could also delay the country’s return to a semblance of normalcy.

“The more people get vaccinated, the fewer infections there will be, which means fewer variants will emerge, and fewer breakthrough infections will occur and the quicker we can get back to doing the things we love,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

Health officials want citizens to know that the shot is safe and they are doing what it takes to make the process more convenient.

“You can get in and out of here in 30 minutes. We can handle up to a thousand folks a day, it’s open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. to accommodate people’s work schedules,” Jennifer Hart, a nurse at the mass vaccination site, said. “They have intentionally put it close to a bus line, close to an interstate to try to make it as successful as possible.”

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