With Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine target approaching, SC kicks off new initiatives

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 3:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With just about three weeks until President Joe Biden’s goal to have 70 percent of Americans at least partially vaccinated, many wonder how likely it is the US can reach that target.

“We are incredibly excited about the progress we’ve made to date,” Assistant White House Press Secretary Kevin Munoz said Thursday. “64 percent of Americans are vaccinated, and every day we are vaccinating thousands and thousands Americans more. We know this is the one way to protect us from this deadly virus, especially in a moment when the deadly Delta Variant is continuing to grow across the country. But this month is really focused on amplifying our efforts to make the vaccine easier than ever before to be reached by every American.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reports 45.7 percent of residents have received at least one dose and only 38.5 percent are fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

“DHEC’s goal is to reach herd immunity by getting 70 to 80 percent of South Carolinians vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. With 46 percent of residents in South Carolina having received at least one dose thus far, there is still a ways to go to reach that goal,” DHEC officials said in a statement.

Munoz said states, like South Carolina, have a ready and willing partner in the White House to help get more people vaccinated.

“Local leaders are going to make decisions about what makes the most sense for their community, and we’re also excited about some of the incentives that have come from the private sector,” Munoz said. “We know that one of the most important reasons to get vaccinated is it’s going to protect you from this serious illness, especially in a moment as this new variant grows. We are going to continue to focusing on that.”

While other states initiate vaccine lotteries to entice residents to get vaccinated, Gov. Henry McMaster has said it would be a waste of money.

“South Carolinians have been given all available information about the vaccine and that is all they need in order to make this decision,” McMaster’s spokesman, Brian Symmes said.

Symmes said the governor believes enticing people to take the vaccine “with the lure of a lottery jackpot is irresponsible and a poor use of taxpayer dollars.”

However, there are several other initiatives underway through DHEC.

State health officials said they are working with South Carolina Parks, Recreation & Tourism to have an initiative launched soon where a vaccine clinic is held at certain state parks. Once a resident receives their shot, they’ll receive free admission to the park for the day. The goal is to roll out the initiative within the next few weeks.

DHEC kicked off its the “Shot with a Chaser” campaign on Thursday, the single-shot Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will be offered at participating breweries, with some breweries offering the two-dose Moderna vaccine, as well. Anyone who gets their shot on-site from a trained medical professional will be offered a free beer or soda; those who choose a beer must be 21 or older. Nearly 20 breweries have signed on to participate in the campaign so far, and state health officials said they are working to add more to their list each day.

“We have a project lead who is working closely with the S.C. Brewers Guild and for any breweries who are not part of the Guild but would like to participate, they can reach out to us directly as well,” DHEC official said in a statement.

The state’s health department is also reaching out to local festivals and minor league baseball teams to host free vaccine opportunities at their events.

“We’re also very supportive of the other creative initiatives vaccine providers and partners around the state are starting up as part of the state’s unified commitment to vaccinate as many South Carolinians as possible,” DHEC official said in a statement.

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