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EDITORIAL: DHEC data make case for vaccines
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EDITORIAL: DHEC data make case for vaccines

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A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that COVID-19 vaccinations may have helped prevent roughly 6,300 new COVID-19 infections and 800 deaths among seniors in South Carolina during the first five months of 2021.

The study, which was conducted by researchers with HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, also found that nationally, vaccinations were linked to a reduction of approximately 265,000 COVID-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries between January and May 2021.

“This report reaffirms what we hear routinely from states: COVID-19 vaccines save lives, prevent hospitalizations, and reduce infection,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated.

Further making the case for vaccinations are S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control data showing the majority of recent COVID-19 cases in the state, including severe cases, are among individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

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From Aug. 16 through Sept. 15, DHEC reported 149,738 cases among South Carolinians.

• Among the 1,993 reported cases where DHEC was able to determine vaccine status, 27,435 (85.8%) of cases were considered not fully vaccinated.

• Among the 1,771 reported cases who were hospitalized with COVID and where DHEC was able to determine vaccine status, 1,277 (72.1%) were considered not fully vaccinated.

• Among the 760 reported deaths from COVID where vaccine status was able to be determined, 589 (77.5%) were considered not fully vaccinated

Additional DHEC data points from the analysis show how many breakthrough cases are among those with pre-existing/comorbid conditions:

• Among the 411 reported cases who were hospitalized with COVID and fully vaccinated (that DHEC was able to determine the vaccination and comorbid status) 388 (94.4%) have pre-existing/comorbid conditions.

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• Among the 143 reported deaths from COVID who were fully vaccinated, 138 (96.5%) had pre-existing/ comorbid conditions.

“We continue to see the majority of severe cases occurring among our fellow South Carolinians who are not fully vaccinated,” said 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.”

DHEC's mission in the state is: "To improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and the environment."

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The agency's official position is for South Carolinians to get a COVID vaccination. Its numbers from the pandemic make a strong case to follow the advice.

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