3 Things to Know About COVID-19

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Oct. 21, 2021

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s medical experts have been monitoring the rapidly changing information around the novel coronavirus since it started making headlines in 2020. Throughout the last 18 months, they have provided insight and helpful information about COVID-19 on a variety of topics

As things move quickly, we have provided quick answers for issues that might be top of mind for many South Carolinians. Below are a few things you might want to know about COVID-19.

3 Things to Know About COVID-19 Booster Shots 

More than half of eligible South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about 53.5 percent have completed vaccination. But recent news about booster shots have caused some confusion. Here are three things to know about booster shots right now: 

  1. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has supported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for Pfizer brand COVID-19 booster shots for high-risk populations. 
  2. People over 65 years, residents in long-term care settings and people over 18 with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary vaccine. 
  3. People 18 – 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure are eligible to receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary vaccine based on individual benefits and risks. 

“A booster shot helps strengthen your immunity against infection, which is especially important for people at higher risk of severe illness. If you are not sure, talk to your health care provider to see if you are eligible for a COVID booster shot,” says Dr. Matt Bartels, Chief Medical Officer for BlueCross. 

Information around booster shots changes quickly. Stay in-the-know about current COVID-19 and vaccine information by following the CDC and DHEC online.

The CDC and Federal Drug Administration are still evaluating data on booster shots for the other vaccines. Find where to get a vaccine near you.

3 Things to know about COVID-19 and Pregnancy  

With high COVID-19 case counts and the Delta variant spreading across South Carolina, pregnant women and recently pregnant-women have become at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared with people who aren’t pregnant. Here’s three things pregnant women should know: 

  1. The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone over the age of 12, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations during pregnancy has been growing. This data suggests the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
  2. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. 
  3. There is no evidence that any vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men. 

“The evidence continues to grow on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccine in pregnant women. We encourage all eligible women to talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated to reduce their risk,” Bartels says. 

Find more information on pregnancy and COVID-19 from the CDC. 

3 Things to Know About Breakthrough Cases 

Daily COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths were recently on the rise in South Carolina. Much of this was among unvaccinated individuals. Breakthrough infections, or cases in vaccinated individuals, also increased. Here are three things to know about breakthrough infections: 

  1. Breakthrough cases are expected. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. As case counts rise, it makes sense that breakthrough cases would also increase as there is more spread in the community. 
  2. The COVID-19 vaccine still provides solid protection from the Delta variant. The FDA-approved vaccines provide protection from severe illness. In South Carolina, the majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated individuals. 
  3. Even if you are fully vaccinated, you need to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including wearing a mask. Follow local guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Vaccines are an important weapon in the defense against disease, and the COVID vaccine is no exception. It has proven to be effective against serious illness and reduced risk of death from infection,” Bartels says. 

Follow the CDC for more guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

3 Things to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine 

There has been a lot of talk lately about vaccination as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus spreads in South Carolina. Only about 53.5 percent of eligible South Carolinians are fully vaccinated. The vaccines are a critical tool in ending the pandemic. Here’s three things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  1. The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adults 16 and older. According to the FDA, the vaccine meets rigorous, scientific standards and meets high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. 
  2. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness. Most COVID-19 cases in South Carolina in recent months were among unvaccinated people, about 88 percent, and the most people in the hospital, the ICU and on ventilators were also not fully vaccinated.  
  3. In South Carolina, hospitalizations are up among unvaccinated individuals. In July about 79 percent of reported deaths were in unvaccinated people, according to DHEC data. 

“The COVID vaccine data proves that being immunized is the best defense against hospitalization and death for those infected. Clearly, the vaccine saves lives, and all eligible people should get vaccinated,” Bartels says. 

Find the answers to more questions about the vaccines from the CDC and DHEC

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3 Things to Know About the Delta Variant 

In recent months, the number of COVID-19 cases spiked across South Carolina and the country as the Delta variant spread rapidly. Here are three things to know about the variant:  

  1. The Delta variant spreads more quickly than other strains of the COVID-19 virus. 
  2. An increase in the number of cases puts more strain on health care resources and, can lead to more hospitalizations — and potentially more deaths.
  3. Studies show that the approved COVID-19 vaccine offers protection from Delta and other variants. 

“The rise of more contagious COVID variants highlights how viruses work to outsmart our defenses, but the layered approach to reducing risk — vaccines, masks, social distancing etc.— is still effective and encouraged,” Bartels says. 

Stay in-the-know about rapidly changing COVID-19 information by following the CDC and DHEC. 

For more of our medical experts’ insight on the pandemic on our blog

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