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DHEC supports CDC’s approval for child vaccine, urges parents to get them vaccinated

(Brandon Thibodeux | CVS Health)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - DHEC has announced its support of the CDC’s sign-off on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 and is urging South Carolina parents to get their children vaccinated.

The state health department said kids in that age group could get the shot as early as Wednesday.

“In South Carolina to date, there have been 56,464 cases of COVID-19 among children ages 5 through 11. We now have an incredible tool that can help stop that number from going much higher and can protect the health of our children,” DHEC Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said.

More than 436,000 children in South Carolina and around 28 million across the country are now eligible for the two-dose vaccination series. Doses for kids in this age group are one-third the size of doses for teens and adults, and they should be administered three weeks apart.

According to the CDC, the vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing coronavirus among children aged 5 to 11, and vaccinating them will help protect them from severe symptoms, hospitalizations, and complications from the virus.

“It gives parents one more tool that they can use to help protect themselves and their children, their family from COVID-19, particularly in an environment where they don’t have control over whether masks are mandated or enforced, and they can’t necessarily control social distancing,” the University of South Carolina Pharmacy Innovation Center Executive Director Dr. Patricia Fabel said.

Vaccine distribution began across the country this week, and the federal government has repeatedly said supply will not be an issue.

South Carolina has received more than 60,000 5-to-11-year-old doses so far, according to DHEC, which expects to have more than 150,000 doses by the end of this week with more to follow next week.

DHEC is distributing these shots to more than 250 vaccine providers around the state, including pediatricians’ offices, health clinics, and hospitals.

“We just urge parents, this vaccine is safe, this vaccine is effective. This vaccine has been tested and administered to millions and millions of people,” Prisma Health Children’s Hospital – Midlands Senior Medical Director Dr. Caughman Taylor said.

DHEC and the South Carolina Department of Education are partnering to offer vaccine clinics at schools that are interested.

The health department encourages parents to call their child’s pediatrician ahead of a visit to find out if they will be offering it, and Kelly said they are compiling a list of providers and locations that will have the shot available, which they plan to put online in the coming days.

“We encourage parents who have questions to seek valid, factual information from their child’s pediatrician or from their own doctor,” Kelly said. “Please don’t let social media debates, self-proclaimed experts, unfounded online resources influence this important decision.”

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