DHEC urges college students, kids to get vaccinated before school starts back


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – With school starting back in the coming weeks, DHEC is urging all eligible children and college students to get vaccinated.

“Several states and several countries outside of ours are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 and COVID-19 variant cases,” Dr. Johnathan Knoche, with DHEC, said.

South Carolina health officials told 7 News the large increase of COVID cases across our nation comes from not enough people being vaccinated.

“Missouri has really become the hot spot for COVID-19 in America, and its vaccination rate is very similar to ours here in South Carolina,” Dr. Knoche said.

That fact has health officials concerned about a potential surge in cases in our state in the near future.

“We are currently reporting 10 Delta variant cases as of Monday, June 28th; so, that’s six additional cases from the four we reported last week,” Dr. Knoche said.

That’s why they’re encouraging all students–12 and up–to get the shot.

“When they’re going to get their back-to-school visit done, and getting their shots completed, go ahead and get their COVID shot as well,” Knoche said.

DHEC said they want students to be able to focus on learning and not have to worry about getting sick.

“If we want to return to normal, and if we want our students and their dedicated teachers to have a normal school year where they can catch up on what was lost last year, then we all need to do our part,” Knoche said.

Those at USC Upstate agree.

“Make life easier. We want to return to normal,” Dr. Ginny Webb said. “We want to have events, sports, and gatherings; and it’s really important that we have a vaccinated population to make those events as safe as possible.”

Dr. Ginny Webb is an Associate Professor of Biology at USC Upstate and said, for students coming back to campus, more vaccinations will mean less isolation.

“Chances of students having to miss something they were excited about–a sports event or something else on campus–if they’re vaccinated, the chance of them missing it due to quarantine is significantly lower,” Dr. Webb said.

But, health officials said, it’s not just about protecting yourself.

“Getting as many people vaccinated as possible is how we help protect those who can’t get vaccinated, like children who are under 12 and people who may be allergic to the vaccines,” Dr. Knoche said.

It takes about five weeks to achieve full vaccination; so, health officials say students don’t have a lot of time to spare and should get the shot right away.

“Teachers, faculty, and young people should get their shots now so they have enough time to receive their second Pfizer or Moderna shot in a few weeks and give their body enough time to have its full immune response before they start back to school,” Dr. Knoche said.

We reached out to Wofford College and Converse College as well.

We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated and intend to require student vaccination pending full regulatory approval. As with other vaccines, religious and medical exemptions will apply.

Wofford College

Converse highly recommends but does not currently require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, if the FDA provides final approval for the COVID-19 vaccinations, Converse will require all students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, except for those who require medical or religious exemptions.

Converse College

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