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S.C. health officials discuss getting vaccine to hard-to-reach residents

South Carolina's coronavirus issues are discussed by Gov. Henry McMaster and his team.
South Carolina's coronavirus issues are discussed by Gov. Henry McMaster and his team.(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 9:25 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control addressed a number of issues with vaccine distribution during its media briefing on Monday.

Interim Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler led the briefing and said that the vaccine is saving lives, but it will be months before enough of the population is vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.

She emphasized that people must be patient, and that while they wait to be vaccinated, they must continue to follow guidelines that have been in place for nearly a year, which include wearing a mask, social distancing and avoid large gatherings.

VACCINATING THOSE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

A major topic during the media briefing was making sure that those in rural communities are getting the same opportunities to receive the vaccine, since many don’t live near big hospitals that are receiving the vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine is now being allocated outside of long-term care facilities, because it has been determined that they have received enough of the vaccine to give to residents and staff.

“The Moderna vaccine being allocated outside of the long-term care facilities was a big step to allowing it in the rural areas,” Traxler explained.

DHEC RESOURCES TO HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS:

She said that the Moderna doesn’t need the ultra-cold temperatures, like the Pfzier does, and can be sent out to rural areas much more easily.

Traxler added that federally-qualified health centers in rural communities started vaccinating people last week, and rural health clinics are starting to receive vaccines this week.

And as more vaccine becomes available and more doses are sent to South Carolina, Traxler said DHEC will be working with other providers and DHEC health departments to make sure that clinics are being done in rural areas so that more people have access to the vaccine.

South Carolina continues to receive between 60,000 – 64,000 first doses of the vaccine from the federal government, and similar number of the second doses. DHEC has not been given a timeline from the CDC on when the state could receive more doses.

FLEETING RESIDENTS ALLOWED TO GET THE VACCINE

During the news briefing, it was brought up that people who only live in South Carolina for a few months out of the year are able to receive the vaccine if they are eligible.

DHEC has said that proof of residency is not needed in order to get a vaccine.

Traxler said that many states are allowing people to cross state lines in order to get the vaccine if they are eligible.

“While the allocations are to each state, I do want to remind everyone that this virus and this disease is not just in South Carolina, it’s across the country, it’s across the world even, and so certainly our neighboring partners in this fight, the border states, that border South Carolina, as well as all the other states, we’re all in this together,” Traxler said.

She added that we all need to get as many people vaccinated as fast as we can and said that neighboring states have helped to vaccinate some people in South Carolina.

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