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Is College Football the Answer to Low South Carolina Vaccination Rate

Let’s face it South Carolina has a Covid Vaccination problem. Currently, DHEC reports that only 45.8% of eligible South Carolina residents have completed the Covid vaccination process. This percentage places South Carolina 40th in the nation for vaccination rate.

Why this Matters

UAB infectious disease expert Dr. Jodie Dionne believes if vaccination rates don’t improve, it could give rise to new variants that could threaten the effectiveness of the current vaccines.

“It’s not a chance. It’s a certainty. We know what viruses do. We work so hard to try to prevent them with things like vaccination because once they have the chance to spread in communities between people, they are mutating and changing all the time,” Dr. Jodie Dionne with UAB said.

In other words, the longer this Covid situation persists, the more chances the virus has to mutate into something even worse.

Changes are Coming for the Unvaccinated

The past few months have been great, live music, Greenville Drive baseball and many other great events returned to the Upstate and it felt like we were at the end of this long Covid nightmare. However, with the rise of the Delta variant, South Carolina’s Covid infections are now averaging over 3000 new cases as day. Something has to be done to get us back in front of the virus instead of playing catch up each time a new Covid variant appears.

Fortunately, we have the answer; the Covid Vaccine. The question now is how to convince the unvaccinated to get the vaccine. Maybe the answer to getting more people vaccinated is to make having the vaccine more attractive to them personally.

Live Music Getting Harder to Attend Without a Vaccination

Anecdotally, I know of several people who got the Covid vaccine solely so that they could attend live music events. Large concerts and music festivals seem to be taking the lead on requiring vaccinations. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival announced Tuesday it would require festival-goers to either have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter event grounds and full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results were also required to attend Lollapalooza 2021. All patrons attending events at The Orange Peel and Rabbit Rabbit will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a lab-conducted, negative test from the past 48 hours

While the percentage of the population that are not vaccinated and who want to attend live music may be small, it’s clear that offering the ability to see live music only after being vaccinated may spur some vaccine hesitant people to get the shot.

How Do You Get a Larger Percentage of the SC Population to Vaccinate?

College Football is king in the south. Last year’s season with limited attendance policies, no tailgating and social distancing was far from the College Football atmosphere we are love. This year promised to be a return to normal, but what if our Covid numbers continue to increase while our Vaccination rate languishes at 45%? Would the potential loss of College Football Saturday’s be enough to get more people to vaccinate? I think so. People act in ways to protect things they love, clearly people love College Football and requiring vaccination for attendance would be a way to reach a significant portion of the population.

Consider that a full house at Clemson game is 81,500 people. Now assume that 45% are vaccinated based on the states current rate. That means 44,825 people at the game have not competed the Covid Vaccination rate. Now add that number to a potential 44,137 people not vaccinated at a Gamecock game and you could potentially see over 88,000 people getting vaccinated solely to insure their ability to watch their favorite sport.

When you consider that 47,537,702 people attended 3,777 College Football games in 2019, the ability to impact vaccination rates really starts to add up.

Something has to be done to move the needle on vaccination rates

I know in our current political climate where even wearing a mask to protect our school children is seen as subversive that the likelihood of mandating vaccination for College Football attendees will probably not happen. But something has to be done to end this Covid Pandemic. The vaccines are proven to be safe and are so easily available that it is clear that people who wanted the vaccine have gotten it. The unvaccinated population is putting the entire population at risk for more suffering and death as the virus continues to spread and mutate.

Given that the health benefits and the overall benefits to society are not enough, we have to find ways to make the unvaccinated see a personal benefit from the shot. Maybe College Football is the only answer.

Still Not Vaccinated? Greenville MD, Saria Saccocio, Gives Six Reasons to Get the Vaccine

The benefits are great when choosing to be fully vaccinated:

  1. Masks and social distancing are no longer necessary, unless required by law or local businesses.
  2. Traveling is easier without mandatory Covid testing within the US.
  3. Variants of the Covid-19 virus, including the most recent delta type, are covered by all 3 types of vaccines available.
  4. Breakthrough cases of Covid-19 are rare
  5. Prevent complications of the virus and the risk of becoming a “long hauler”, experiencing prolonged symptoms post infection.
  6. Protect your loved ones and those especially vulnerable from getting infected.