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As South Carolina Lags On Vaccines, Gov. McMaster Tells VP To Visit Border Instead

Vice President Kamala Harris listens during a virtual tour of the Community Vaccination Center at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

As part of President Biden’s “Month of Action” announced June 2, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Greenville, SC, on Monday to launch a nationwide tour to promote COVID-19 vaccination. The tour comes after the event’s opening weekend included over 1,000 events across all 50 states. The White House has expressed hopes that the month-long affair will “mobilize an all-of-America sprint to get 70% of US adults at least one shot by July 4th.”

“Vaccination gives protection,” Harris said during her stop in Greenville today. “This act, in a way, is a projection of love thy neighbor.”

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and other top-level members of the administration are joining Harris with their own stops in Southeastern states in a region where only 51% of adults are at least partially vaccinated in contrast with the national average of 64%.

SC Nearing 10,000 COVID-19 Deaths

Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are the top three states for vaccinations, with each recording more than 80% of adults partially or fully vaccinated—well exceeding Biden’s goal of 70% by Independence Day. Ten other states have also met the administration’s goal.

With nearly 10,000 South Carolinians dead from COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived last spring, Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted on Friday that he believes Harris’ time would be better spent at the US border “trying to fix the mess” which he claims the Biden administration “created”—instead of promoting vaccination in the Palmetto State. Harris has taken the lead on immigration issues in the administration amid an increase in unaccompanied child arrivals that began under the Trump administration.

On social media, the South Carolina governor uses a photo of himself standing near the border wall at the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas—about 1,350 miles away from the capital of the state he governs.

In a November 2020 Associated Press poll, 36% of South Carolina voters described the pandemic as the most important issue followed by 31% who said the same about the economy and jobs. Only 3% listed immigration as their priority.

Deep South Trails In Vaccination Rates

South Carolina ranks 42nd among all states when it comes to partial or full vaccinations, with only 52% of the population 18 or older having received at least one shot.

Men in South Carolina lag behind women by as much as 20% or more in COVID-19 vaccination rates; 55.62% of men aged 20 or older are vaccinated compared to 76.14% of women in the same cohort. South Carolina has other major issues within its own borders, too, as its economic recovery since the pandemic-fueled recession has trailed the rest of the economy.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster stands near the US Mexico border
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, seen here while visiting the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, in April, told Vice President Kamala Harris that her time would be “better spent” visiting the border to talk about immigration than traveling to South Carolina to promote the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 10,000 South Carolinians are confirmed to have died since the pandemic began. Henry McMaster/Twitter

Elsewhere in the Deep South, Georgia, where Harris plans to visit later in the week, currently exceeds South Carolina’s vaccination rate with 52.2% of adults having received at least one shot. Louisiana and Alabama trail South Carolina in this metric, with partial vaccination rates of 46.9% and 46.6% respectively.

Mississippi, where the White House has not announced plans for a visit, is last among all 50 states with only 44.8% of its adult population partially vaccinated.

Get Vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccinations are provided free of charge to all people in the United States. Over 64% of adults in the US have received the first COVID-19 vaccine and everyone age 12 and older can now get theirs. Talk with your health care provider to get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines or use one of these three ways to find a vaccine location near you: 

  • Go to vaccines.gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233