Florida has one the highest COVID-19 booster rates in the country – According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is the fourth-lowest state for adults receiving the COVID-19 booster shots. The rates for teens and children are also well below the national average. This is a concern, particularly as the holidays are near.
Just over 20% of Florida seniors had received a bivalent booster from Moderna or Pfizer as of November 16. This was the first time that the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration approved it at the end of August.
Nearly 30% of the total U.S. population have received one, with only Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama having lower rates than Florida. Georgia is just a few points ahead of the state, but it is basically equal with it.
The term “bivalent”, as it is sometimes called, refers to the fact these vaccines target both coronavirus and omicron variants. This caused an increase in deaths and hospitalizations last winter. It continues to circulate in other strains.
Seniors are more likely to be affected by severe COVID-19. This is why Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health, worries about Florida’s low rates.
He said, “We haven’t convinced enough people that getting that booster shot is worthwhile to not only protect them but also the people they’ll be spending the holidays with.”
It is also among the top five states for adults of working age, with 4.5% of them having received the latest shot, compared with 9% nationally.
Salemi believes that the reason for the low vaccine uptake is due to some state officials being skeptical about the vaccines. Others may be waiting due to a previous infection or booster.
Salemi states that if the shot has been ineffective for more than two weeks, it is time to get a new one. This applies also to children.
The booster has been administered to 1.5% of Florida’s teens aged 12-17, and 0.5% for kids aged 5-11. The COVID vaccination rates among younger children in Florida are very low.
Linette Sande, an infectious disease physician at Nemours Children’s Hospital Orlando, says that now is the right time to make this change.
She stated that she wanted families to have fun during the holidays. “We don’t want people to get sick before they travel. Even if you aren’t traveling for the holidays, but have family members, grandparents, parents, or young children, we don’t want COVID spread at these events.”
Sande advises parents who are unsure if their children can be started with the new booster that they complete the primary series. These shots can still prevent severe illness and are safe.
Sande encourages families to get flu shots, as RSV is currently spreading in the community.
RSV vaccines are not yet available. Sande suggests handwashing, keeping surfaces clean, and avoiding contact from sick people to help prevent spread of the virus.