COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WBTW) — Governor Henry McMaster says he doesn’t want the federal government sending people door-to-door to convince residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Gov. McMaster asked the Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday to ban state and local health care groups from using door-to-door tactics suggested by President Joe Biden earlier this week.
“A South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government’s,” Governor McMaster wrote in a letter to the DHEC Board Chair. “Enticing, coercing, intimidating, mandating, or pressuring anyone to take the vaccine is a bad policy which will deteriorate the public’s trust and confidence in the State’s vaccination efforts.”
DHEC issued a response to the governor’s statement on Friday, saying DHEC’s vaccine outreach efforts have not and will not include unsolicited door-to-door visits. DHEC does offer in-home vaccines through a homebound vaccination program, but only if specifically requested in advance.
“Getting vaccinated is a personal choice,” DHEC issued in a release. “DHEC’s role and responsibility is to protect public health by increasing factual knowledge, awareness and access to COVID-19 vaccines.“
The governor said in his statement, “The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of ‘targeted’ homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust and could lead to potentially disastrous public safety consequences.”
The Republican governor’s opposition to the vaccine canvassing follows pushback in Arizona and Missouri. The White House’s coronavirus response coordinator has previously said the best people to talk about vaccinations are local doctors and faith and community leaders, who may go door to door.
About 43% of South Carolinians have been fully vaccinated so far.
South Carolina and national data show that those who continue to become hospitalized and die from COVID-19 are those who are not fully vaccinated. Low statewide vaccination rates allow the virus to continue to mutate and more significant variants to spread, as is currently occurring in many states and countries.
DHEC encourages South Carolinians to ask questions and seek information about the vaccines from science-based, reliable sources like the CDC, DHEC, or the DHEC COVID-19 Vaccination Line at 1-866-365-8110. It’s critical for those who are not fully vaccinated to understand they are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk for being vulnerable to illness, DHEC warns.