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South Carolina hits 50% of eligible people with one dose of COVID vaccine

While health leaders celebrate the milestone, they say we are far away from where we should be.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has hit the 50 percent mark of eligible people who've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. But while health leaders applaud that milestone, they say the state is far below where it should be with people getting the shot.

The state's health agency, DHEC, announced Thursday that South Carolina had officially hit that level. Right now, anyone 12 and up is eligible to get the vaccine, so the number does not include most adolescents.

A total of 2,147,032 people have gotten the one shot. However, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses to be considered fully vaccinated; only the Johnson & Johnson offers full protection at one dose. Presently 816,007 South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine and 1,189,885 residents have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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The number of people who are fully vaccinated, which means they are two weeks removed from getting their required shots, still stands at just 44 percent. 

Both numbers badly lag national data. The U.S. average for one dose is 65.9 percent and 57.1 percent for fully vaccinated. 

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“This milestone is encouraging, and we thank everyone who made the decision to get vaccinated. We are especially proud of our senior citizens, ages 65 and up, who account for more than a third of our state’s vaccinations. But we still have a lot of work to do,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We encourage our younger residents to roll up their sleeve and get this life-saving vaccine so they can protect themselves, as well as family members who may have preexisting conditions and children who are too young to get vaccinated.”

Currently all the key metrics show COVID is seeing a surge after months of decline. On Thursday, DHEC reported 929 new total cases, the highest total since April 21. Hospitalizations were at 297 this week, the highest number seen since just before the Memorial Day weekend. 

Residents who have not gotten their second shot are encouraged to get it now to complete their vaccination. If you missed your second shot appointment or it’s been more than the recommended 21 or 28 days since your first dose, that’s ok. DHEC encourages you to complete your vaccination as soon as possible. Vaccinations are more important than ever due to increased cases of the Delta variant and other Variants of Concern identified by the CDC. These variants have made COVID-19 more transmissible and increase the risk of severe sickness, hospitalization, and death.