Majority of severe COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated, DHEC says

·3 min read

Oct. 5—The majority of recent COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, including severe cases, remain among individuals who are not fully vaccinated, according to an analysis by the state's top health agency.

A total of 149,738 coronavirus cases were reported between Aug. 16 and Sept. 15, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Among the 31,993 reported cases where vaccine status could be determined, 27,435, or almost 86%, of cases were considered not fully vaccinated.

Among the 1,771 reported COVID cases that required hospitalization where DHEC could determine vaccine status, 1,277, or about 72%, were considered not fully vaccinated.

Among the 760 reported deaths from COVID where vaccine status was able to be determined, 589, or almost 78%, were considered not fully vaccinated.

This follows a July and August analysis that revealed more than 86% of COVID-19 cases, 72% of hospitalizations and 78% of COVID-19 deaths were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

Additional DHEC data points from this analysis shows how many breakthrough cases were among those with preexisting/comorbid conditions. Among the 411 reported cases who were hospitalized with COVID and fully vaccinated, 388 had preexisting/comorbid conditions.

Among the 143 reported deaths from COVID who were fully vaccinated, 138 had preexisting/comorbid conditions.

"We continue to see the majority of severe cases occurring among our fellow South Carolinians who are not fully vaccinated," stated Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director. "Not being fully vaccinated puts people at increased risk of being hospitalized or dying if they become infected with COVID-19."

Almost 61% of South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while almost 53% are fully vaccinated. In Aiken County, just over 46% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose, while around 55% are fully vaccinated.

Residents can find a vaccine location near them by visiting

In addition to vaccinations, DHEC strongly encourages the use of masks in public and indoor settings, especially in schools.

The agency cited a recent CDC report that highlights the effectiveness of wearing masks, including one study from Arizona that revealed schools were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks if they did not have a mask requirement at the start of school compared with schools that required universal masking on day one.

Another study found that during the two weeks following the start of school, the average change in pediatric COVID-19 case rates was lower among counties with school mask requirements — about 16 cases per 100,000 people per day — compared with counties without school mask requirements who had about 35 cases per 100,000 people per day.

"The evidence is clear: the combination of vaccines and masking has and is saving lives," Traxler stated. "Not only that, but in areas where vaccinations and masking are higher, we see people are better able to return to their regular lives. We want to see that across our state. We owe it to our children and ourselves to follow these two key recommendations so we can finally end this pandemic."

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