COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The state health department, DHEC, said children between the ages of 5 to 11 in South Carolina could begin getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as Wednesday.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer called this a major step forward for South Carolina and the rest of the country in the fight against COVID-19.
According to state health officials, they began developing their vaccine rollout plan for pediatric vaccines last month.
Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said South Carolina has received more than 60,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal government. They expect to receive another 90,000 doses by the end of this week.
Dr. Kelly said they’re encouraging families to start the two-dose vaccination process for their children as soon as they can, so they are fully vaccinated by the holidays. She said she understands it could be a difficult decision for families.
She said, “In South Carolina to date, there have been 56,464 cases of COVID-19 among children ages 5-11. We now have an incredible tool that can prevent that from going much higher and protect the health of our children.”
According to DHEC officials, they have confirmed 3 COVID-19 deaths in the state in the 5-11 age group since the start of the pandemic. Dr. Kelly said even though that number seems low compared to other age groups, the vaccine is necessary for children.
She said, “It’s not simply about deaths. It’s also about long-COVID. It’s about kids having symptoms for more than 4 weeks after they had COVID. For some of those kids in the ICU, it’s about their mental health, having gone through an experience for what is now a vaccine-preventable disease for that age group.”
Dr. Kelly said pediatric vaccines have been sent to more than 250 vaccine providers across the state so far and there are about 430,000 children in the 5-11 in South Carolina.