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"It maybe be a bit irresponsible," DHEC pauses some vaccination and booster sites, and preventive health services

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has paused some health services around the Midlands due to staffing shortages.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), announced it is moving staff around the state, to provide as many services without interruption, for the week. The agency said it's due to staffing shortages within DHEC. 

These changes impact counties in the Midlands, including Fairfield and Lexington. DHEC is pausing it's vaccinations and booster shots at the Fairfield County Health Department and York Health Center.

"To pause it at this time, it maybe a bit irresponsible I would think," Perkenya McCloud, Fairfield County resident. "If people are willing to get it, and able to get it, then it would be readily available for them."

This change comes as the health agency reported more than 12,000 positive COVID-19 cases on Monday, and 8,000 more cases on Tuesday. 

“It's an unnecessary thing," McCloud said. "If they want those numbers to decline, then those vaccinations are necessary."

In a statement, DHEC said: "The DHEC public health departments where shortages are occurring are the ones where we are temporarily scaling back certain services until we can provide adequate staff at these locations. There are still plenty of vaccination and booster locations, as well as other clinics and facilities in the impacted areas where residents can get the health services they need."

The agency adds: "Though COVID-19 vaccines are currently unavailable at our Fairfield County Health Department, there are still vaccine opportunities throughout the area. Our DHEC Midlands region is hosting a vaccine clinic Wednesday, January 12; Thursday, January 13; and Friday, January 14 at Fairfield County School District Office from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day."

Additional vaccine opportunities are always kept current at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator.

“No, staffing shortages, this should not be a reason," said Dwayne Dowtin, Fairfield County Resident. "The population within Fairfield County, more specifically, Winnsboro, definitely needs assistance, in terms of having people vaccinate."

RELATED: SC leaders say COVID-19 vaccine roll out is too slow in rural areas

Dowtin said rural communities need access to vaccines. 

"The population within Fairfield County, more specifically, Winnsboro, definitely needs assistance, in terms of having people vaccinate," Dowtin said. 

The agency is also pausing preventative Health Services at Lexington County's Public Health Center, with the exception of appointments for Fast Track (HIV/STD) services for people with NO symptoms.

Preventative services include: birth control; reproductive health education; pregnancy testing; STI testing, treatment and counseling; pap smear; and HIV Risk Assessment (education, counseling and testing).

DHEC said the pause should resume next week, as long as it can provide adequate staffing to do so. 

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