COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly says South Carolina’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine is meeting demand — and surpassing it.
She says the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is strongly encouraging anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine to get one. According to state data, vaccination rates among minority groups remains low.
It’s a concern for Mike Young, the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at PASOs. PASOs is a statewide nonprofit that works on connecting the Hispanic and Latin communities with resources.
Young said it’s all hands on deck to make sure people in South Carolina’s Hispanic community have all the information they need on the vaccine.
“When our community is healthy — everybody benefits as well,” he said. “We’re all part of an ecosystem. When one part of the ecosystem is not doing well, it affects the others.”
Right now, according to the DHEC, close to 60,000 Hispanics or Latinos have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hispanics make up around 6 to 8% of the state’s population, Young said. But about 3% of the vaccines given so far in South Carolina have gone to Hispanics.
Young said PASOs encourage people to get the vaccine — but he understands why there is much hesitancy in the community.
“When you’re historically not made to feel fully included or welcomed, it’s going to be tough to earn that trust and go, ‘yeah, this program has my best interest in mind,'” he said.
DHEC is paying close attention to demographic data for their vaccines. You can find that information on their vaccine dashboard.
“That’s why our ongoing outreach to minority communities continues to be so important,” said Kelly. We have partnerships with churches and businesses. We’re making sure our PSAs and information are translated into other languages like Spanish and Chinese and others.”
DHEC is also stepping up its outreach efforts in rural and underserved areas. Kelly said they’ll be sending out postcards to homes to get accurate vaccine information out there.
“We want to make sure those individuals who may be disconnected from social media or aren’t listening to the news cycle to make sure they are receiving that COVID-19 information as well,” she said.
Kelly also hinted at possible incentive programs in the near future. DHEC said those plans are still in the early stages.
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