More people seek vaccinations as delta variant spreads

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COVID-19 cases and covid-related deaths continue to increase in Florida, as the highly contagious delta variant spreads. But there’s some good news: More people in South Central Florida are being vaccinated.

For the seven day period ending July 29:
• 3,376 Collier County residents were vaccinated;
• 74 Glades County residents were vaccinated;
• 300 Hendry County residents were vaccinated;
• 712 Highlands County resident were vaccinated;
• 1,471 Martin County residents were vaccinated;
• 270 Okeechobee County residents were vaccinated;
• 14,750 Palm Beach County residents were vaccinated.

Vaccinations are free, available through most pharmacies, and – like all health records – confidential. Florida has more than 1,000 vaccine distribution sites for eligible residents. To find COVID-19 testing or vaccination sites, go online to floridahealthcovid19.gov.

COVID-19 infections in Florida continued to increase last week, with 110,477 new cases July 23-29 (compared to 73,199 the previous week), according to the Florida Department of Health report released July 30.

Florida had a new case positivity rate of 18.1% for the week (compared to 15.1% previous week). Statewide 61% of those over age 12 have been vaccinated.

For July 23-30, there were 108 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida (compared to 78 the previous week). The FDOH summary does not list where the deaths were. Since the pandemic began, 39,079 Floridians have died related to the virus.

In South Central Florida, for the week of July 23-30:

• Collier County: 67% of those over age 12 are vaccinated; 17.6% new positivity rate; 1,442 new cases for the week (compared to 867 previous week);

• Glades County: 43% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 13.3% new positivity rate; 9 new cases for the week (compared 10 the previous week);

• Hendry County: 45% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 15.4% new positivity rate; 112 new cases for the week (compared to 59 previous week);

• Highlands County: 54% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 18.3% new positivity rate; 311 new cases for the week (compared to 150 previous week);

• Martin County: 61% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 17.8% new positivity rate; 557 new cases for the week (compared to 473 previous week);

• Okeechobee County: 40% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 19.4% new positivity rate; 154 new cases for the week (compared to 68 previous week);

• Palm Beach County: 65% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 15.5% new case positivity rate; 5.948 new cases for the week (compared to 3,972 previous week).

As explained on the JohnsHopkinsmedicine.org website, by Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response: “Vaccines help people develop immunity to a virus or other germ. A vaccine introduces a less harmful part of that germ — or something created to look or behave like it — into a person’s body. The body’s immune system develops antibodies that fight that particular germ and keep the person from getting sick from it. Later, if the person encounters that germ again, their immune system can ‘recognize' it and ‘remember’ how to fight it off.”

According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, 99% of recent covid deaths were unvaccinated persons.

In televised interviews last week Murthy recommended parents of unvaccinated children take extra care, even if the parents are vaccinated. New research has shown vaccinated persons may become infected with the delta variant, and although they may have no symptoms themselves, could spread the virus to others. Parents of children under the age of 12 have been encouraged to wear face masks in public places where they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance from others, as vaccines have not yet been approved for children under age 12.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, and it is as contagious as chickenpox.

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