Gov. McMaster and White House disagree on door to door vaccine efforts


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is opposed to the White House’s initiative to go door to door with community leaders to encourage vaccinations.

The governor sent out a letter to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday issuing “direction to agency leadership and to state and local healthcare organizations prohibiting the use of the Biden Administration’s ‘targeted’ ‘door to door’ tactics in the State’s ongoing vaccination efforts.”

The letter also stated that “A South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government’s.”

McMaster continued by saying that pressuring people into taking the vaccine will deteriorate public trust in South Carolina’s vaccination efforts.

“A South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government’s,” McMaster wrote in his letter. “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.”

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki spoke about South Carolina’s vaccination efforts at a press conference on Friday.

“The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider that,” said Psaki.

Meanwhile, DHEC Director Edward Simmer said the agency’s vaccine outreach efforts have not and will not include unsolicited door-to-door visits. “DHEC does offer in-home vaccines through our homebound vaccination program, but only if specifically requested in advance by the person being vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Simmer went on to say, “We appreciate the Governor’s concern for the wellbeing of all South Carolinians. DHEC continues to strongly encourage all eligible South Carolinians to get fully vaccinated to protect themselves and our communities from the ongoing threat of COVID-19 that continues to take lives every day. We continue to focus on making lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines as accessible as possible across the state.”

South Carolina has 43% of the state fully vaccinated, according to DHEC. Other states, like Maryland and Virginia, have full vaccination rates above 50%.

Roper St. Francis Hospital says that they are having trouble getting younger South Carolinians vaccinated.

Dr. Robert Oliverio said younger people and those in minority groups are simply not making appointments.

Oliverio also says that appointments might go up after the FDA approves the vaccine and employers would require proof of vaccination.

But there could be a rise in numbers before the school year.

“We’re gonna get kids before school. Kids 12 and up can now get vaccinated so a lot of folks are going to want their kids to get vaccinated before school,” said Oliverio.

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