The district and the Medical University of South Carolina began giving doses of the Pfizer vaccine to students on April 27. It expected to complete the 200 first doses by the end of the day April 28.
The district announced last week that it would begin offering Pfizer vaccines to students age 16 and older. Around 7,000 students fall within that age range, said Ellen Nitz, director of nursing services at the district.
“Even though we’re not talking about huge numbers of students that are participating … each time that you get a student vaccinated, that’s a win,” Nitz said.
Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one so far to be approved for people age 16 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were only given a green light for adults age 18 and older. No vaccine is authorized for kids younger than 16.
Students were able to sign up for an appointment, which is voluntary and requires a guardian’s permission, through an online link that was sent out by their principal.
At the time of their appointment, the students were able to leave class to go to the gym and get the shot. They then returned to class to finish out their day, Nitz said.
MUSC helped the district vaccinate over 4,000 employees and are now aiding in the effort to vaccinate students.
The district had teachers who received the vaccine share their experience with students to dispel any nerves or anxiety about receiving the shot.
“I also reached out to our athletics department because, as we know, sports is a great motivator for many of these kids and being able to play sports,” Nitz said. “The vaccine just gives them that protection where COVID won’t put them on the bench and sideline them.”
Some students may have been vaccinated before the district started offering the shots as South Carolina opened the vaccine to any person 16 and older March 26. Pfizer tested its vaccine in kids age 12 to 15 and found it is safe and effective in the younger age group. The company is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update its authorization for the middle school-age kids.
Nitz said the district will update its plans to vaccinate the younger students if regulators agree.
“This helps protect not only the school but our community as well,” she said. “By getting these kids vaccinated it will help to decrease the caseload in the future.”
New cases reported: 403 confirmed, 277 probable.
Total cases in S.C.: 480,361 confirmed, 96,278 probable.
Percent positive: 6.6 percent.
New deaths reported: 28 confirmed, 10 probable.
Total deaths in S.C.: 8,337 confirmed, 1,135 probable.
Percent of ICU beds filled: 67 percent.
How S.C. ranks
South Carolina ranks 41st in the nation in the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 people as of April 27, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the total number of newly confirmed cases April 28, Greenville County (45), Spartanburg County (33) Berkeley County and Charleston County (29 each) saw the highest totals.
What about tri-county?
Charleston County had 29 new cases on April 28, while Berkeley County had 29 and Dorchester County had 10.
Of the deaths confirmed April 28, 13 were patients age 35 to 64 and 15 were patients age 65 or older.
Of the 487 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of April 27, 127 were in the ICU and 66 were using ventilators.
Long-term care facilities
There have been 20,036 confirmed coronavirus cases in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities: 12,388 residents and 7,648 staff workers, according to DHEC data.
So far, 1,926 residents have died from the virus, a mortality rate of 16 percent. Twenty-nine workers also have died. Together, they account for 24 percent of deaths in the state, the data from April 25 shows.
Of the 682 facilities DHEC monitored, the virus has been found in 509. There are active outbreaks at 53 of them, an 8 percent increase in two weeks.
Some type of visitation — indoor, outdoor or both — is allowed at 682 facilities; 20 do not allow it; and 17 did not report.
Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.