CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are now recommended for everyone 18 and older after the CDC signed off on the booster eligibility expansion late last week.
Adults are now recommended to get the additional dose of their choice at least six months after their second shot, urging those 50 and older especially to get the shot. Before, people who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines could get a booster if they were eligible based on their age, health conditions, or where they worked or lived, while everyone 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was eligible for the additional dose.
More than 400,000 people have already received a third dose in South Carolina, according to DHEC’s online vaccination dashboard, and for the last month, more South Carolinians have been boosting their protection through this additional shot than the number of people who are getting that protection in the first place through the initial vaccination series.
“You’re still seeing a large proportion of people who didn’t get their first dose are kind of holding out and don’t plan to get it or don’t want to get it or are hesitant to get it, whereas the proportion of people who got fully vaccinated, they have that trust and that reliance, so I think you’re seeing that greater number coming out with the numbers,” DHEC Medical Consultant Dr. Jonathan Knoche.
That shift started the week of Oct. 24, when 26,512 first doses were administered, 17,578 second doses were administered, and 66,077 third doses were administered. The week of Oct. 31, 26,889 first doses were given, along with 15,366 second doses and 57,117 third doses. The following week, starting Nov. 7, 34,516 people got first doses, 13,111 got third doses, and 49,304 got third doses, and during the week of Nov. 14, 30,192 people received first doses, along with 11,533 getting second doses and 48,383 getting third doses.
Knoche said boosters will help to ease the pandemic, but to end the pandemic, the bigger goal is still to get more people vaccinated in the first place.
“We’re encouraged that there still is, every single day, every single week, people getting their first dose and their second dose and completing their series. So that’s a good thing, and we want to recognize that and are grateful that people are still getting their series,” Knoche said. “It’s important for people that have been waiting and on the fence to go ahead and do it now and get their vaccine now, with the winter months coming and people moving indoors and more people gathering together and people are going to be traveling together for the holidays.”
Meanwhile, the numbers of first doses administered in the last two weeks — 34,516 the week of Nov. 7 and 30,192 the week of Nov. 14 — are the highest those totals have been in about two months.
DHEC said a major factor behind that rise is because the beginning of the increase started around the same time 5- to 11-year-olds became eligible to get Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in early November. The department reported 13,439 doses were administered in the 5-11 age group from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, with nearly 25,000 children in that age group receiving their first dose of the vaccine so far in South Carolina.
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