South Carolinians will get their chance this Thursday to ask public health experts, medical professionals and community leaders their most burning questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is teaming up with South Carolina’s public television station and local leaders to host a virtual forum on the COVID-19 vaccine where they’ll take questions from the public.
The event aims to provide residents with accurate information about the vaccine, which has been the subject of misinformation, and encourage residents to get vaccinated.
South Carolina currently ranks 40th nationally in its percentage of vaccinated residents, according to federal data.
“We recognize that South Carolinians have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. We also know that there is a lot of misinformation and mistrust when it comes to vaccines in general,” DHEC Director Edward Simmer said in a statement. “These conversations give our community leaders and residents the chance to have an open discussion about their concerns, have their questions answered by public health experts, and gain the tools they need to help educate and inform others about the importance of getting vaccinated.”
It will feature discussions on the impact of COVID-19 on South Carolina’s rural communities, communities of color and across different age groups.
While access to the vaccine remains a challenge in some rural and underserved communities, the bigger issue is vaccine hesitancy, Simmer said last week.
The two subgroups with the lowest rate of vaccine uptake in South Carolina are people 18 to 35, especially African Americans, and political conservatives, he said.
Young people, especially, see little need to get vaccinated because they believe COVID-19 poses minimal risk to them, while other residents, especially conservatives, are skeptical of the vaccine, which they view as a government program, Simmer said.
As of Monday morning, more than 42% of eligible South Carolinians had received a single COVID-19 shot and 34.5% were fully vaccinated, according to DHEC data. State health officials have said between 70% and 80% of residents would need to get vaccinated to reach so-called herd immunity.
To submit a question for Thursday’s virtual vaccine forum, email VaccineTownHall@scdhec.gov, and it may be read and answered live during the event.