Health officials encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

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With COVID-19 vaccine now widely available in Florida through pharmacies, hospitals and county health departments, Florida Department of Health is encouraging the public to be vaccinated in order to help slow the spread of the deadly virus.

According to CDC estimates, achieving “herd immunity” to stop the spread of the virus requires that 70% to 80% of the population be vaccinated or acquire some immunity by contracting and surviving the virus. Those who survived COVID-19 are still encouraged to be vaccinated as it is unknown how long immunity may last, according to FDOH. There have been documented cases of individuals who contracted the virus more than once.

As of May 2, DOH reports that 8,915,278 people had been vaccinated with at least one dose in Florida and 6,347,939 had completed the vaccination series. That means 41.5% of the population has received at least one shot, based on the most recent U.S. Census data available which shows the state population at 21,477,737.

To date, 2,203,807 Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Those who had the virus but self-quarantined and were not tested are not included in that total.

It is difficult to determine the percentage of Floridians who have either been vaccinated or survived the virus because some of those vaccinated were winter residents (who are not included as Florida residents by the census). Also, some of those who tested positive were also later vaccinated.

The following COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of COVID-19:

• The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in persons 16 years of age and older.

• The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use in persons 18 years of age and older.

• The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine for use in persons 18 years and older.

All COVID-19 vaccines are free to Floridians. For vaccine availability in your area, go online to https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/vaccine-locator/

Vaccination numbers continue to rise for South Central Florida counties as more vaccine becomes accessible, and all of those age 18 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated.

• Collier County: 189,515 have received at least one dose; 139,363 have completed the vaccination series. That means 49% of county residents have received at least one dose.

• Glades County: 2,974 have received at least one dose; 2,186 have completed the vaccination series. That's a vaccination rate of 21.5%.

• Hendry County: 11,573 have received at least one dose; 7,986 have completed the vaccination series, for a vaccination rate of 27.5%.

• Highlands County: 41,618 have received at least one dose; 28,259 have completed the vaccination series, for a vaccination rate of 39.1%.

• Martin County: 75,597 have received at least one dose; 55,416 have completed the vaccination series, for a vaccination rate of 46.9%.

• Okeechobee County: 11,845 have received at least one dose; 8,334 have completed the vaccination series for a vaccination rate of 28.1%

• Palm Beach County: 654,716 have received at least one dose; 463,2491 have completed the vaccination series, for a vaccination rate of 43.7%.

Vaccinations are available at Publix, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies. See the websites for these pharmacies to make an appointment. Family Drugs of Indiantown and Heartland Pharmacy in Okeechobee and Okeechobee Discount Drugs in Okeechobee also have vaccine.

FDOH has vaccination clinics throughout the state. Current vaccine distribution locations throughout the nation can be located at www.vaccines.gov/search/ by entering a zip code.

Florida Department of Health reports that since the pandemic started in 2020, 90,889 Florida residents have been hospitalized.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), as of May 2:

• Sixty-nine Collier County residents are hospitalized due to COVID-19. The county has 26 ICU beds open.

• No Glades County residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19.

• In Highlands County, 28 residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. The county has three ICU beds open.

• Five Hendry County residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Hendry County had three ICU beds open.

• Seventeen Martin County residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Martin County had 11 ICU beds open.

• Five Okeechobee County residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Okeechobee County had no ICU beds available.

• Palm Beach County has 199 residents hospitalized due to COVID-19. The county had 134 adult ICU beds and 11 pediatric ICU beds open.

Since the pandemic started, 35,307 Florida resident deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 (that's 1.64 deaths per 1,000 residents).

The death toll for South Central Florida counties has been:
• Collier County - 528 (1.4 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Glades County - 19 (1.37 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Hendry County - 82 (1.95 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Highlands County - 351 (3.25 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Martin County - 320 (1.98 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Okeechobee County - 88 (2.08 deaths per 1,000 residents);
• Palm Beach County - 2,774 (1.85 deaths per 1,000 residents).

Health officials encourage Florida residents to continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance between themselves and those who are not members of their immediate household and to wear cloth face coverings in public spaces where it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance.

For more information, Florida’s COVID-19 Call Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

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