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Surveys suggest about a third in SC still don't plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine

North Charleston vaccine06.jpg (copy)

Drucilla Lladone Chandler, a pharmacy technician, preps the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the Palmetto Palace mobile health unit vaccination site and food drive at Tricounty Family Ministries on March 31, 2021, in North Charleston. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Surveys of thousands of households show willingness to take a vaccine has increased in recent weeks, including in South Carolina. But the percentage of people saying they will "definitely not get a vaccine" in South Carolina remains almost unchanged.

The most recent week's survey, which the Census Bureau conducted between March 3 and March 15 in partnership with other federal agencies, included about 78,000 respondents nationwide and 1,100 in South Carolina. 

Since January, the percentage of South Carolinians telling surveyors they don't plan to get vaccinated improved from 32 percent to 29 percent. 

But those who said they are staunchly opposed to getting vaccinated remained about the same, at 14 percent in the most recent week.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, interim director for public health at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, said she would stress to those who remain hesitant that vaccines are the state's path back to normalcy.

"I would emphasize to them that reaching herd immunity by vaccinating a significant portion of the community is the answer to slow the spread of COVID-19 and be able to safely return to activities and more normal life," she said. "We all want that." 

Possible side effects were the top reason people cited for their hesitancy. Those side effects include nausea, fever, headaches, pain and chills. Severe allergic reactions have happened in a small number of cases. After millions of shots have been delivered, no death has been attributed to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Other common reasons for not wanting a shot were a lack of trust in the vaccines or in the government, and a desire to "wait and see if it is safe." 

In a bright spot, the percentage of Black people in South Carolina responding to the census survey that they would not get a vaccine has declined dramatically, from 38 percent saying they would probably or definitely not get one in January to 23 percent in late March.

As of March 31, about a third of South Carolina residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to DHEC. Eighteen percent are fully vaccinated.

Statewide numbers

New cases reported: 683 confirmed, 409 probable.

Total cases in S.C.: 466,318 confirmed, 87,713 probable.

Percent positive: 3.9 percent.

New deaths reported: 7 confirmed, 3 probable.

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Total deaths in S.C.: 8,092 confirmed, 1,087 probable.

Percent of ICU beds filled: 71 percent.

How does S.C. rank in vaccines administered per 100,000 people? 

42nd as of April 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hardest-hit areas 

In the total number of newly confirmed cases, Greenville County (123), York County (51) and Spartanburg County (49) saw the highest totals. 

What about the tri-county?

Charleston County had 48 new cases on April 2, while Berkeley had 23 and Dorchester had 20.

Deaths

Two of the new confirmed deaths reported were people age 35 to 64, and five were patients age 65 and older. 

Hospitalizations

Of the 470 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of April 2, 116 were in the ICU and 48 were using ventilators.

What do experts say?

The CDC issued new travel recommendations for fully vaccinated people on April 2. The federal health authority said people who have had both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can safely travel internationally. 

The CDC still recommends travelers get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after the travel. The agency said "you do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States." 

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

Mary Katherine, who also goes by MK, covers health care for The Post and Courier. She is also pursuing a master's degree in data science. She grew up in upstate New York and enjoys playing cards, kayaking and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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