Vaccines slowing down as South Florida hits 40% immunization

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – As supply becomes ampler for COVID-19 vaccines, demand is beginning to soften, which raises questions about what happens if we don’t hit community immunity — and how to best approach vaccine hesitancy.

According to the latest numbers from state health officials, the vaccination rate in Miami-Dade County just hit 40% of the population, and Broward County has risen up to 38%.

But also of note, as access and eligibility expand, the number of doses administered is slowing each day:

MIAMI-DADE:

A look at the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered over recent days in Miami-Dade County. (Florida Department of Health)

BROWARD:

A look at the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered over recent days in Broward County. (Florida Department of Health)

Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty of Florida International University says that with variants in the mix, we may need to hit 80% of us getting the vaccine to reach community immunity.

“That helps all of us get to getting rid of this virus in our community,” she said.

But what happens if we miss the mark?

“That really is a challenging question,” she said. “That means we’ll have a smoldering problem that lingers and lingers and lingers, and that’s what we have to consider. Do we want to tolerate having higher numbers of overall people who have died? "

For policy leaders planning another round of public awareness campaigns, Dr. Marty said now would be the time to launch them — in addition to developing targeted outreach strategies coordinated with community leaders of groups more hesitant than others to get a shot.

“We have to figure out where are the pockets of hesitancy, and who are the leaders in those communities, so we can do a train the trainer,” she said.

[RELATED: See data on vaccine hesitancy in Miami-Dade and Broward]

More than 8.1 million people have received COVID-19 vaccines in Florida, with nearly 5.2 million in the state fully vaccinated.

Miami-Dade has had 1,097,580 people receive at least one shot, Broward has had 749,410, Monroe County 31,799 and Palm Beach County 598,241, according to the latest numbers from the state.

Tuesday marked the return of Pfizer first doses at the federally funded vaccination site at Miami Dade College’s north campus. The site pivoted after the CDC and FDA recommended pausing Johnson & Johnson shots as regulators review rare blood clot cases.

Also new, Jackson Health has started a walk-up service for Pfizer doses at its vaccination sites. Appointments are no longer needed at these three locations:

  • Christine E.. Lynn Rehabilitation Center, 1611 NW 12th Ave., Miami
  • North Dade Health Center, 16555 NW 25th Ave., Miami Gardens
  • Jackson South Medical Center, 9333 SW 152nd St., Kendall

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