DHEC leadership change and vaccination plan announced
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced a transition in leadership of its deputy area of Public Health.
According to a press release, Dr. Joan Duwve decided to move on from her role as the agency’s Public Health Director. Dr. Brannon Traxler, who has been serving as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response, will assume the role of interim director of Public Health.
“Understandably, Joan has made a career decision that she feels is in the best interest of her family and we respect this decision,” said acting DHEC Director Marshall Taylor in a press statement. “Joan is a brilliant physician who is passionate about public health and we greatly appreciate the time she spent with DHEC as our director of Public Health. We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
Dr. Traxler will assume her role as interim director of Public Health effective immediately. To support a smooth transition in agency-wide public health operations, Dr. Duwve will stay on with the agency in an advisory role until Oct. 1, 2020.
“I have the utmost confidence in Brannon’s ability to lead the state’s public health efforts during these challenging times,” said Taylor. “Brannon’s breadth of experience and knowledge in medical practice as a surgeon as well as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response, uniquely positions her for this critical role and I look forward to our continued work together.”
A native of Greenville, S.C., Dr. Traxler most recently served as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response. She is trained and board certified in General Surgery. She previously practiced as a surgeon in South Carolina before changing her specialty focus to public health, serving as physician for DHEC in the areas of infectious disease surveillance and control and emergency preparedness and response.
Dr. Traxler earned her medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and her Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology at the Clemson University Honors College.
DHEC and Partners to Develop State COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Using Federal Guidance
Earlier this week the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced the agency and several key partners are developing a statewide COVID-19 vaccination testing plan in accordance with federal guidance.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division; South Carolina Hospital Association; National Guard; South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division; Department of Labor; and other public and private sector partners are working closely with DHEC in creating the plan.
“Although we don’t know exactly when vaccine will be available in the U.S., I want to assure you that DHEC is forging partnerships and following federal guidance for developing a plan for distributing the vaccine within our state when it becomes available,” said Stephen White, DHEC’s Director of Immunizations in a press release. “This plan will be built on the guidance and recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies.”
DHEC explained in a press release that the overarching goal of this vaccination plan will be the equitable distribution of vaccine across the state. When the vaccine first becomes available in South Carolina and other states, the number of doses will be limited and those limited doses will be allocated, according to federal guidance, to those at highest risk for contracting the virus and those at the highest risk of death. This includes front-line medical personnel, including those individuals who provide care for our senior populations in nursing homes; residents of nursing homes; and critical infrastructure employees as defined by the CDC.
As vaccine production ramps up nationwide and additional vaccines complete the approval process, COVID-19 vaccinations will become accessible to the general public.
At this time, DHEC said they can’t determine if this vaccine would eventually become a required school vaccine. Each year, DHEC works with key stakeholders to develop the vaccination requirements for school.
“We have been assured by key scientific stakeholders like the National Institutes of Health that no vaccine will be released until it has undergone the rigorous scientific and clinical testing that all vaccines in development are held to,” White said.
The state’s COVID-19 vaccination planning process and timeline will continue to evolve as more information becomes available to us from the federal government, and DHEC will continue to keep South Carolinians updated on the status and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
For the latest COVID-19 information, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19.