SC state epidemiologist gets COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – South Carolina’s state epidemiologist hopes others will join her in taking the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to them.

Dr. Linda Bell, with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), received her first dose of the vaccine Tuesday morning.

She says this is a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, and without widespread inoculations, South Carolina has the potential to see more deaths.

“It’s heartwrenching to understand we still have months and months more of disease spread,” she said, “and so the number of people who have any question about the vaccine and the benefits, we want them to think really hard about the fact that we’ve got a long way to go before we can use this vaccine to prevent more deaths, to prevent more hospitalizations.”

Bell recognizes COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the Black population with higher rates of hospitalizations and underlying medical conditions, increasing their risk.

“It’s a message that I want the population as a whole, African Americans in particular, to understand that the vaccine is safe, the vaccine is effective,” she said, “and it gives us a means…to prevent that higher risk of disease, higher risk of hospitalizations and higher risk of death.”

South Carolina State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 12 (courtesy Prisma Health)

Starting Wednesday, the state is expanding vaccine eligibility to include those age 70 and older. DHEC says like all states, South Carolina has a limited supply of vaccines, and some locations may not have an appointment available for several weeks.

“Until there is enough vaccine for all of us and enough people get vaccinated, we must continue to take actions we know work,” Bell said. “That includes wearing our masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large gatherings, and washing our hands frequently.”

Visit here to learn more about South Carolina’s vaccine plan.

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