JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that everyone 16 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine, there is a new push by the federal government to get people to roll up their sleeves.
“Things are about to get a whole lot easier,” Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor on the COVID-19 response, said Monday.
The U.S. reached the vaccination milestone just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million, according to totals compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
At the federally-supported vaccination site at Gateway Mall in Jacksonville, there were few people on hand getting their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. It was the same at the state-run vaccination site at Regency Square Mall, where first and second shots are being offered. There was hardly anyone in line there.
Mesha Rivers is one of those who is still deciding if she will get the vaccine.
“I think for me, I am more concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine because it’s really relatively new,” Rivers said.
On Monday, the White House COVID-19 Response Team said that indecision is problematic.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said there is a reason to be concerned.
“Cases and hospitalizations are increasing in some areas of the country, and cases among younger people who have not yet been vaccinated are also increasing,” Walensky said.
Across the country, according to the CDC, there were 5,460 people hospitalized Monday with the coronavirus. On Sunday, 700 people died nationwide.
In Duval County alone, 121 people were hospitalized with the virus, as of Monday afternoon. There were three coronavirus-related deaths reported Sunday in the county.
To bring those numbers down, the federal government is making a big push for those who have not had the shot to do so. The White House panel is pointing to a new study of hospital workers and others who were first vaccinated in December and January. The panel claims the results show the vaccine is working
“The risk of any infection asymptomatic and symptomatic was reduced by 90% after receiving the two recommended doses of the vaccine,” Walensky said.
Currently, out of the 84 million people fully vaccinated in the U.S., 6,000 have come down with the virus after the shot. According to doctors, those cases for the most part have not been severe and 30% of those people had no symptoms at all.