Breaking News
More () »

COVID-19 vaccine available to South Carolina kids Wednesday

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) urges parents to take advantage of this "life saving opportunity"

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A major announcement from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regarding the fight against COVID-19: South Carolina children ages 5 to 11 can start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Wednesday.

SCDHEC made that announcement during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. It follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approval on Tuesday of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

DHEC said getting this age group vaccinated is a big step not only for South Carolina but for the entire nation in the fight against the virus.

Dr. Jane Kelly of DHEC said there have been three pediatric COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina since the start of the pandemic. 

Kelly said this vaccine isn't just about preventing deaths in children, it's also to prevent serious cases of the virus. 

"It's not just about deaths," Kelly said. "We have kids who survive but they survive because they spent literally weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit and that has long term chronic effects as well. ... It's about their mental health, as well as physical health, having gone through and experienced what is now a vaccine preventable disease for that age group."

DHEC said it has more than 60,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine and more doses are expected on a weekly basis.

RELATED: 'A historic moment' | First pediatric COVID-19 vaccines given in Mecklenburg County

According to the federal government, there are enough doses for all 28 million children nationwide in this 5 to 11 year old age group so a phased rollout will not be necessary like it was for adult vaccines last winter.

In South Carolina, DHEC says more than 250 vaccine providers in the state will be giving out the pediatric doses.

However, providers are currently working to update and train their staff on the final CDC recommendations for pediatric COVID-19 vaccines so it’s recommended parents call their specific health care provider.

"We greatly encourage parents to begin the two-dose series for their eligible children as soon as possible so that they too will be protected during the upcoming winter holidays," Kelly said. 

Visit DHEC COVID-19 webpage for more information about the vaccine and to find a provider near you. You can also call the DHEC vaccine information line at 1-866-365-8110.

Contact Carolyn Bruck at cbruck@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Before You Leave, Check This Out