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SC News

SC Pharmaceutical Plant to Require COVID Vaccine For Workers

FilShemika Champion becomes the first health care worker in the Lowcountry to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at  MUSC in Charleston.
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By MICHELLE LIU Associated Press/Report for America

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina pharmaceutical company that has offered COVID-19 vaccines since February will now require all of its own employees to get inoculated. Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. will mandate all of its nearly 2,000 workers be fully vaccinated or have started a two-dose vaccine series by Aug. 27. Details of the requirement were shared with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement Monday. The company's vaccine mandate does provide for exemptions. A growing number of hospitals in the state have begun requiring the shots for workers, but the vast majority of companies in South Carolina have not. Less than half of eligible state residents have been fully vaccinated.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina-based pharmaceutical manufacturer that has offered coronavirus vaccines to the public and run thousands of COVID-19 tests throughout the pandemic will now require all of its employees to get inoculated.

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. is mandating that all of the company's nearly 2,000 workers be fully vaccinated or have started a two-dose vaccine series by Aug. 27, unless the employee has "an exemption or reasonable accommodation," according to CEO Lou Kennedy. Details of the requirement were shared with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement Monday.

"As COVID-19 cases, driven by the deadly serious Delta variant, continue to impact communities and businesses alike, we can be one of the first businesses of our size to have a fully-vaccinated workforce," Kennedy wrote in a planned company-wide letter.

The company, located in Lexington County, is also mandating all visitors, vendors and guests be fully vaccinated. Those who need the shots can get them from Nephron itself, which has run a vaccine site in West Columbia since February.

A growing number of hospitals around the state, including the Medical University of South Carolina and Tidelands, have made vaccination a requirement for health care employees. Prisma Health, South Carolina's largest hospital system, has offered incentives to staffers instead, news outlets have reported.

Most other businesses in the state haven't implemented such requirements, S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan told The State newspaper earlier this summer.

The Nephron announcement comes as vaccine rates continue to lag in the state. Less than half of eligible South Carolinians were fully vaccinated as of last week, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Lawmakers in the South Carolina Senate did approve a proposal that would prevent employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for workers earlier this year. That measure still awaits House action.

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Liu is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.