MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina health officials said Wednesday the state is not on track to achieve the Biden administration’s goal of 70% of Americans being partially vaccinated by Independence Day.
“Reaching it by July Fourth – we need to step up the efforts,” said Jane Kelly, the assistant state epidemiologist.
Kelly said that COVID-19 vaccination rates vary by county and region.
“We hope our outreach efforts will reach those lesser vaccinated areas to help move us toward that goal,” she said.
The state is currently seeing higher vaccination rates in more coastal communities and lower rates in rural areas. Kelly hopes the state will pick up the pace to prevent new COVID-19 variants from spreading.
There are also concerns about the increased COVID-19 spread among young people and through school social events like as prom and graduation. Kelly said that people ages 15-34 are showing the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases.
Kelly said prom and graduation would be super spreader events. DHEC reports show young people are getting severely ill from COVID-19. Kelly said according to national and state surveys, younger people don’t see the need to get the shot.
Although a statewide decision has not been made about these events, Kelly said that those who are old enough to go to prom are old enough to get vaccinated.
“I would just put to families and teens, that many colleges are requiring COVID vaccine anyway,” she said. “Might as well get it done now.”
DHEC has been trying to increase vaccination rates by educating younger people on the benefits of the vaccine.
After consideration, Horry-Georgetown Technical College will not require a COVID-19 vaccine for students in the fall. Coastal Carolina University is still deciding.