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DHEC awaiting word from CDC on vaccinating younger teens in SC

While South Carolina lags behind most of the country in terms of getting vaccinated, the state continues to see cases and deaths related to COVID-19 drop. 

After zero reports of confirmed or probable deaths on May 11, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported an additional four confirmed fatalities related to coronavirus on May 12. None were reported in the Lowcountry. 

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 182 confirmed, 177 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 486,537 confirmed, 99,064 probable.

Percent positive: 4.7 percent.

New deaths reported: 4 confirmed, 3 probable.

Total deaths in S.C.: 8,453 confirmed, 1,150 probable. 

Percent of ICU beds filled: 69.54 percent.

How S.C. ranks

South Carolina ranks 42nd in the nation regarding the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people as of May 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hardest-hit areas

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In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Richland and Greenville counties saw the highest totals with 17 cases each. 

What about tri-county?

Charleston County had five new cases on May 12, while Berkeley and Dorchester had six each.

Deaths

Three of the deaths confirmed were among elderly patients, 65 and older, and one death was a patient age 35-64.

Hospitalizations

Of the 365 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of May 12, 99 were in the ICU and 55 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

Dr. Brannon Traxler, director of public health for DHEC, said the agency is awaiting word from the CDC's advisory panel May 12 on whether to move forward with distributing Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15.

Up until this point, vaccines are only available to people 16 and older. Traxler said although young people aren't as susceptible to severe cases of the disease, they can still be spreaders.

"Vaccinating this age group is essential to stopping the spread of COVID-19," Traxler said. "They can easily and unknowingly spread the virus in their communities."

DHEC's "best estimate" is that 190,000 kids are in the younger age group that will soon become eligible.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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