DHEC official: ‘I’ll be among the first … to roll up my sleeve and get vaccinated’

As the first health care facilities in the state begin to receive COVID-19 vaccine, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell issued this statement last week: “The road in our fight against COVID-19 has been long, and it hasn’t been easy. Many of us have already made significant sacrifices. South Carolinians have lost their loved ones to this deadly disease, others have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. We haven’t yet reached the end of this long road, but I have great hope now with the arrival of the first vaccines in our state. “DHEC and its federal, state and local partners are committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to receive vaccine in South Carolina will eventually be vaccinated. However, the number of doses is currently limited in South Carolina, like in all states. That’s why officials are asking all South Carolinians to step up by stepping back to ensure the most vulnerable among us and those who keep us alive are vaccinated first. “As we wait for additional vaccines, it’s important to understand that it may take months to vaccinate enough of our population that it would allow us to change some of our current safety practices. “This means we must all continue to take the small steps that make a big difference, including wearing masks, getting tested and staying home when we’re sick, avoiding group gatherings, practicing physical distancing, and, when it’s our turn, getting vaccinated. “We recognize that some people are skeptical of this vaccine. We absolutely understand why some people are hesitant. This skepticism especially resonates among African-Americans and other people of color, whose history of how we were once treated horribly in previous experimental research is forever entrenched in our memories. “I understand the distrust. But I also know the result of that history. All studies involving humans now require initial and ongoing review to make sure appropriate steps are in place to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in research. “I want everyone to know these processes were in place in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and the review showed they are safe and effective. Unfortunately, groups that have the most skepticism are the same groups that have the highest rates of hospitalizations and deaths.

Author: Rachel Howell

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