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UF Health Jacksonville CEO warns you can carry virus even after vaccination

Dr. Leon Haley says that’s why it’s important wear masks even after getting vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More women in Duval County are coming down with COVID-19 than men, which goes against the national trend. That was one finding announced Thursday by the head of UF Health Jacksonville.

Another important note UF Health Jacksonville CEO Dr. Leon Haley said even if you’ve gotten both doses of the vaccine, you can still carry the virus in your nose -- and that’s why it’s critical you still wear a mask.

For 10 months, UF Health has been sharing with City Council and other elected officials about what the pandemic is doing in Jacksonville.

On Thursday, hospital officials revealed that the majority of patients in Jacksonville -- 54% -- are female.

Data provided by the hospital show 23,000 COVID-19 patients are Black

34,000 are white and 9,000 are another race.

Those who have fallen sick range from infants to a 106-year-old who actually survived the illness.

The average age of a COVID-19 patient in Jacksonville is 38.

Most of the concern Thursday surrounded vaccines with Haley pointing out that even with two doses protecting them from developing symptoms, people can still be contagious carriers of the virus.

“The concern is that yes there is a possibility that you could be completely vaccinated but technically still be a carrier particularly in your nasal passages, which is why the current recommendation is even after you’ve been vaccinated that you continue to wear a mask,” Haley said.

Haley said so far, most people who have reactions or symptoms after vaccination are getting those after the second dose. But even then, the reactions are not severe.

“They only last for a very short amount of time. So you’re looking at less than a day. And I think the one thing people need to remember is some of that is actually OK because having side effects means your body is responding. It is trying to create an immune response, so it’s actually OK for you to have that,” Haley explained.

He wanted to assure people that the vaccines are safe.

But even at his own hospital, there has been reluctance among employees to be vaccinated. Only 52% of the hospital’s employees have received shots, and Haley said that was by choice, it wasn’t a supply issue.

“We are still working with a number of our team members,” Haley said. “It’s been a lot of our nursing staff that are concerned, in part because there has been, unfortunately, misinformation about the vaccine and pregnancy, and we have a lot of young childbearing nursing staff who are very concerned, and we obviously have some folks who are concerned about vaccines in general.”

Haley also recommended double masking for travelers, particularly for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

“Until we can get enough people vaccinated, it’s really important for you to wear your mask and wear two masks if you are going to travel,” Haley said.


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