COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SC health officials said some adults and children are behind on their vaccinations.
They said some may have skipped or cancelled appointments due to fears of catching COVID-19 while visiting the hospital or medical practice.
Monday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Prisma Health marked SC Immunization Awareness Week. DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer said immunizations are some of the most important tools in keeping South Carolina healthy.
He said, “Immunizations are the one thing we have that prevents us from spreading things to each other. It allows us to live together safely and congregate in many places.”
As work continues to get more South Carolinians vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr. Simmer and others are reminding folks to get shots they have missed over the last year and a half.
According to Simmer, some of the vaccines people may have missed include shots for shingles, HPV or tetanus.
He said vaccines played a crucial role in nearly eliminating Polio in the United States.
Pediatricians said children across South Carolina are also behind on their shots. Dr. Anna Kathryn Rye Burch is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. She said it’s crucial for children in South Carolina to get caught up.
“The problem with children being behind and others on their vaccines is that it lowers that herd immunity. It allows other viruses to come in and take hold of the situation,” she said.
Dr. Rye Burch said low vaccination rates of certain immunizations has lead to small measles outbreaks across the country.
Officials said one challenge they are facing is misinformation. Dr. Rye Burch said misinformation is spreading easily on social media sites. “We see data every day that shows vaccines are safe and effective. It takes time to get over those humps where we see misinformation that does harm,” she said.
Dr. Simmer said DHEC continues to put out information on their social media accounts to combat misinformation. They also recommend people speak with their doctors about vaccines.
“Vaccination is a personal choice, but that choice should be made with accurate information,” Simmer said.