COLUMBIA, S.C. — As of Friday, 42% of all South Carolinians have received one dose of the vaccine and just over a third of our state's population is fully vaccinated.
In a vaccine update Friday, DHEC also released new information about the demand for the Johnson & Johnson shot, which resumed distribution in the Palmetto state Monday.
Since the Johnson & Johnson shot resumed earlier this week, 1,974 doses have been administered statewide.
DHEC says demand for the one-dose vaccine is picking up.
"We have people who have been e-mailing, asking for information specifically where they can get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine," said Assistant State Epidemiologist with SCDHEC, Dr. Jane Kelly. "I think there is still confidence in the Janssen vaccine and some individuals prefer one and done. It's a little too early to tell, but we haven't really seen these utilization rates go down."
In Friday's briefing, Dr. Jane Kelly also discussed long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. She says so far, South Carolina hasn't reported any adverse reactions. If severe reactions to the shots are going to happen, Kelly says they'll occur within the first six weeks.
"We've now had over 200 million doses of vaccines administered. We've had some allergic reactions. There were those six very rare cases with the Janssen vaccine that were further investigated," said Kelly. "Otherwise, we have not seen any serious adverse events. We've now had more than two months."
As supply outweighs demand, DHEC is encouraging everyone to get the first shot available. Ideally, the agency would like to equalize the levels of supply and demand.
Medical experts realize some people remain hesitant due to misinformation spreading online.
Dr. Kelly addressed a few concerns Friday.
"None of these vaccines have virus in them. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine," said Kelly. "Vaccines do not decrease your fertility or cause sterility, and these vaccines do not alter your DNA. Do not be fooled by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories."
As of Friday, over 133,000 people are late for their second dose of the vaccine. Dr. Kelly says DHEC is taking a closer look at this group, identifying any sub populations who may choose to skip out on the second dose. Sub populations can include certain ethnicities or age groups.
To help more South Carolinians get the life-saving shot, DHEC says plans are in the works for vaccine incentives.
For example, Dr. Kelly says some employers are offering gift cards or time off for their workers to get vaccinated. The health agency has the capability of offering incentives and secured funding for that use.
"Once Pfizer vaccine, for example, is approved for ages 12 to 15, which we think it will, that we could have school days events," explained Kelly. "Maybe give return-to-school packages of school supplies. We have talked about financial incentives. I think there's a preference of being a little more creative and just not giving people money."
DHEC will share more about their incentive plans when plans are finalized.