COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The director of South Carolina’s lead health agency issued a statement calling for more people to get vaccinated after the state surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 related deaths.
Dr. Edward Simmer, director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, said South Carolina reported 15 new deaths on Wednesday, pushing the statewide total past the 10,000 mark.
He says the only way to prevent more deaths is through vaccination.
“Hundreds of millions of Americans have been fully vaccinated, including nearly two million South Carolinians. But our work is not done. That number only represents 45 percent of South Carolinians eligible for the vaccine, and it does not count all those aged 11-and-under who are not yet eligible for the vaccine but who depend on the rest of us to protect them,” said Dr. Simmer.
He says while it looked like the pandemic was improving only a month ago, the arrival of the Delta variant has created a new surge in cases and deaths “that we have to take seriously,” he said.
“Until we reach a critical percentage of South Carolinians vaccinated that can stifle COVID-19’s spread, we are not out of danger. And the longer that takes, the more time the virus has to mutate into new, harder-to-control variants,” said Dr. Simmer.
Dr. Simmer insisted the vaccines are all safe, reliable, and available – echoing a statement by Governor Henry McMaster who earlier this week encouraged all South Carolinians to get vaccinated.
“It’s free, it’s convenient, the lines are not like they used to be – you can get right in and get out,” said Gov. McMaster during a press conference on Monday. “Studies show that all three of the vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19 and the new variant when you’ve taken both shots in the case of Pfizer and Moderna and the one case of J&J.”
Dr. Simmer urged all residents to get fully vaccinated and to continue following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC.
“South Carolinians have a well-deserved reputation for working together and taking care of each other. Now more than ever, we need to do so. If we do, we will defeat COVID-19, which has already taken so much from so many,” said Dr. Simmer.