State health officials say children between the ages of 5 and 11 in South Carolina could receive a COVID vaccine as early as the first week of November.
Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said the state is anticipating up to 150,000 doses during that week.
"While we will be prepared, it is important to remember the timeline is not set in stone yet and no provider may administer shots to anyone younger than age 12 until the Food and Drug Administration issues emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine," Kelly said.
The state health agency reported fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 20, continuing the downward trend of new cases in the state. The state recorded 50 new deaths due to the virus.
New cases reported: 569 confirmed, 254 probable.
Total cases in S.C.: 713,101 confirmed, 175,995 probable.
Percent positive: 7.5 percent.
New deaths reported: 38 confirmed, 12 probable.
Total deaths in S.C.: 11,569 confirmed, 1,799 probable.
Percent of ICU beds filled (with COVID-19 and other patients): 73.13 percent.
S.C. residents vaccinated
In South Carolina, 61.8 percent of people who are eligible for the vaccine have received one shot, and 54.2 percent of eligible residents are considered fully vaccinated.
On Oct. 20, Greenville (108), Spartanburg (60) and Richland (41) counties saw the highest totals of newly confirmed cases.
What about the tri-county?
Charleston County had 31 new cases on Oct. 20, while Berkeley had 17 and Dorchester 13.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control releases county-level data regarding COVID-19 deaths and the ages of those who have died from the virus on Tuesdays. According to the latest data, at least 272 people in South Carolina died from the virus from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16, and their ages ranged from young adult (18-34) to elderly (65 and older).
Greenville County recorded 52 COVID deaths that week — the highest numbers in the state. Health officials have reported the vast majority of patients who are dying from the coronavirus at this stage of the pandemic are unvaccinated.
Of the 933 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Oct. 20, 286 were in the ICU and 187 were using ventilators.
Variants of concern
DHEC sequences a small, random sample of positive COVID-19 cases each week to determine which variants of concern (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) are circulating in the state. According to the latest data published by the agency on Oct. 13, 3,299 samples have been identified as “variants of concern” over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,053 have been identified as the delta variant, which health officials say is now the dominant strain in South Carolina.
What do experts say?
Experts from the American Medical Association are urging parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 once the shots are available.
“We encourage all parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 once vaccines are authorized and recommended for use in this population," said Dr. Gerald Harmon, president of American Medical Association, who is based in Georgetown.
To find a vaccine clinic near you, go to vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov.