‘We know the vaccine saves lives,’ McMaster says as SC has 50% with one COVID shot

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Gov. Henry McMaster said taking the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision, but believes his family’s choice to get vaccinated was the right decision.

McMaster made the comments Thursday as the Department of Health and Environmental Control announced that 50% of eligible South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

South Carolina ranks 41st in the nation in vaccination rates, according to analysis of Centers for Disease Control data.

McMaster and his wife, First Lady Peggy McMaster, in the spring received the vaccine. Their children also have been vaccinated.

He said, however, taking the vaccine is a personal decision.

“We made our decision,” the Republican governor said. “I think it was the right decision to do, but people, if they have questions they can get answers and they need to talk to the people they trust. Whether it’s a preacher, a doctor, neighbors or friends, and make a decision. We made what I think is the right decision.”

The state reached the 50% milestone on a day DHEC reported 10.8% of tests came back positive and as daily cases have increased.

“We know that the vaccine saves lives. We’ve seen that. We see it in the numbers of people going into the hospital I think is close to 99% are not vaccinated,” McMaster said. “So that means that the vaccine is working.”

DHEC said in a news release people 20-24 and 12-19 are among the least vaccinated, and increases in cases and hospitalizations are among younger people. The agency added the uptick in cases has almost entirely been among those people who not vaccinated.

Between June 1 and July 15, at least 150 COVID-19 cases were reported among South Carolinians who attended or worked at a summer camp, DHEC said.

“These numbers are a snapshot of what could happen in our schools this year if more parents, students, teachers and other school officials don’t get vaccinated,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “At this time last year, we did not have a solution to defeat COVID-19. Now we do. We don’t want this deadly virus spreading in our school or communities.”

Reporter Zak Koeske contributed to this article.