COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend and summer break on the horizon, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control continues to encourage parents to get children 12 or older vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.
It is important because children can spread the virus to vulnerable people, such as elderly residents, people with preexisting conditions, or those younger than 12 who can’t get vaccinated, DHEC said. Other preventive measures, such as masks among unvaccinated residents, hand washing, and physically distancing among large groups, are also encouraged.
“Children can easily infect their parents, grandparents, teachers, and others that they will have close contact with who may have a higher risk of severe illness,” Dr. Linda Bell, a state epidemiologist, said. “For this reason, we urge parents to consider the risk of serious complications and protect their children, themselves, and others from COVID-19 infection.”
Data released Saturday morning by DHEC showed 1,911,545, or 44.5 percent of eligible South Carolinians, have received at least one shot of a vaccine, and 1,573,105, or 36.6 percent, have completed their vaccination. Children ages 12 and up are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and adults 18 or older can choose between the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson brand vaccines.
While children are less likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, according to DHEC, the virus can still cause some issues, such as Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C. MIS-C can cause kidney failure, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems and severe blood clotting that can result in strokes and organ failure.
More than 100 children in South Carolina have developed MIS-C since the start of the pandemic, DHEC said. It is unclear what causes MIS-C, but many of the affected children had COVID-19 or were in contact with someone who did, DHEC said, adding that getting vaccinated will significantly decrease the chances of COVID-19 complications.
Parents who have questions about getting their child vaccinated should talk with a trusted health care provider, pediatrician, or pharmacist. DHEC also has a dedicated webpage for vaccinating this age group that contains helpful information for decision-making.