Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Southeast poised for omicron surge as FDA expands boosters

The United States is heading into the third year of the coronavirus pandemic as the omicron variant is poised to sweep across the Southeast after already surging through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Health experts cite lower vaccination rates and fewer mask and vaccine mandates as anchors for the omicron variant to take root. S.C. ICU doctors are reporting spikes in hospitalizations and severe cases in unvaccinated patients. And the situation may only get worse as outbreaks spread to more rural areas with even lower vaccination rates.

In the wake of the surge, the federal Food and Drug Administration is allowing Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots in children as young as 12 once enough time has passed since their last vaccine dose — as early as five months, according to new recommendations.

“Hopefully this will be not just a call for people to go get their booster shot,” but for the tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans to rethink that choice, said FDA vaccine chief Peter Marks. “It’s not too late to start to get vaccinated.”

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 5,491 total cases of COVID-19 Jan. 4, with 4,568 confirmed. A total of 2 new deaths, all confirmed, were also reported.

Over the New Year’s weekend, DHEC reported a total of 21,559 cases, with 6,974 confirmed Saturday, 7,985 confirmed Sunday and 6,600 confirmed Monday.

With 26,089 tests reported Tuesday, 27.9% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 65.3%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 56.3%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 12.9%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 7.7%