UF Health CEO: Jacksonville seeing rise in COVID-19 among younger people

UF Health CEO said masks may not be needed in school next year

VIDEO: The CEO of UF Health Jacksonville stressed the importance of getting teens vaccinated.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The CEO of UF Health Jacksonville on Thursday stressed the importance of getting teens vaccinated.

That’s because he said there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases locally among younger people.

UF Health CEO Dr. Leon Haley spoke to city leaders on a conference call to give an update on the pandemic.

Haley said there is a shift in who is getting sick.

The numbers are not dramatic, but Haley told school board and city council members that the cases have gone up over the last week.

“If you look at the age now in the state of Florida and Duval County for admissions, that number, that peak number it’s really between 25 and 34,” Haley said. “And the next group is 15 to 24 and the group after that is 35 to 40. It’s almost a wholesale shift from who was vulnerable from a year or so ago. So it is a reminder that the next group we need to target with vaccines and education is that younger group.”

Starting Thursday, an estimated 17 million children, ages 12 to 15, are now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off Wednesday on expanding vaccines to all teenagers, saying the vaccine is safe and effective for younger Americans.

Haley is urging parents to get kids vaccinated, but News4Jax has been hearing from parents that there still is some reluctance.

Also in the call, Dr. Haley talked about mask mandates in school. He said they may not be needed next school year.

“All the projections suggest we should be able to open schools fully without mask coming this fall,” he said. “Kind of like the stadium questions now, that is dependent on getting enough people vaccinated, getting enough kids vaccinated, those that are eligible, and that nothing else happens.”

Haley also talked about booster shots.

He said those who have been vaccinated may need them in the fall.

Haley also does not see a problem, if things stay the same, with having a full stadium for Jacksonville Jaguars games. He said go ahead and buy tickets.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.