Health Officials Look for Solutions as Vaccine Demand Drops in South Carolina
May 26, 2021
A recent article by The State titled "As Demand for COVID Vaccine Plummets, SC Health Officials scramble to Figure Out Why
" recounts how the waning demand of the COVID-19 vaccine has affected the state's efforts to reach herd immunity, to the point that South Carolina finds itself holding a surplus of vaccine supplies after months of limitations to respond to residents' demands.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has continued overseeing the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, but health care providers now provide a third of the amount of doses they would have administered less than a month ago. "Remember the early days where people would talk about (how) they'd drive an hour, two hours to get to some place to get that precious appointment and get vaccinated? We may now be entering an era where people are not as willing or not able to do something as dramatic as that, so we need to bring the vaccine to the people." said assistant state epidemiologist Jane Kelly.
People 16 and older became eligible COVID-19 vaccine at the beginning of April. Since then, only 32% of the eligible population in South Carolina has been fully vaccinated. Of the 42% that got the vaccine's first shot, more than 10% has not come back to receive their second dose. When assessing the drop in the demand, Kelly addresses a number of factors, like people's availability to travel to the vaccination sites and their doubts regarding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, in many cases prompted by all the conspiracy theories that make their way to social media.
While the results of a recent state survey showed that 80% of the participants planned to get vaccinated after becoming eligible, they also revealed that vaccine hesitancy is rooted in some parts of the population, particularly young people, Black residents, and people living in the Upstate. DHEC plans to use these results in their efforts to motivate the population, even though the agency's nonscientific approach has rendered somewhat inaccurate results.
Ongoing Plans to Turn Things Around
South Carolina currently ranks as the 40th state in the percentage of residents who have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. DHEC has set in motion several plans to change people's stance on the COVID-19 vaccine, including partnerships with other organizations to forge inroads with rural / minority communities, including groups like the Office of Rural Health, the Commission on Minority Affairs, the AARP, the Department of Education's Migrant Education program and Hold Out the Lifeline. The department has also made informative pieces available in multiple languages while doubling the efforts to reach these communities through multiple digital and physical channels.
DHC has also shifted its tactic regarding mass vaccination events, urging providers to vaccinate people without appointment or proof of identification. Other plans include the possibility of providing vaccines at different public events and using giveaways to spike people's interest. While some of these plans might take longer to come to fruition, health officials hope that the return of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might simplify their efforts. Meanwhile, Kelly encourages all vaccinated residents to help spread the word to their family, friends, and acquaintances.
You can read the complete article here: As Demand for COVID Vaccine Plummets, SC Health Officials scramble to Figure Out Why