UF Health CEO: Just 50% of area hospital workers have been vaccinated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Vaccinations are one of the hottest topics locally and nationally this week with the resurgence of the virus due to the delta variant.

The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health also show a disconnect, where only about half the hospital workers have taken the vaccine.

MORE | Florida’s COVID-19 surge continues, adds 73,199 cases in week

Hospital visits for COVID-19 patients have been up exponentially in the past month. UF Health CEO Leon Haley said the increase is 1,000% since June 18.

“Northeast Florida has been a particular challenge, particularly in Duval County, Nassau County, St. Johns and Baker largely because our vaccination rates lag behind,” Haley said.

The State Health Department reports over the past 30 days:

  • Most cases are people without the vaccine
  • Most people infected are between 20 and 49 years old
  • And most people in the hospital are between 40 and 69

While medical professionals urge the broader public to get the shots, vaccination rates in hospitals among staff are 50% or less, according to Haley’s estimate.

“It doesn’t sit well,” said Dr. Nancy Staats, a local anesthesiologist. “I did look up the statistics. So our local [health care] population is reflective of our general population.”

When Dr. Staats says the vaccination rate for hospital staff in our area mirrors the general population’s figures we wanted to see what she means.

In Duval County, 50% of the eligible population over 12 years old has been vaccinated, according to Department of Health numbers released Friday. In Nassau, it’s a 51% rate while in St. Johns, Clay and Baker counties it is 63%, 43% and 31%, respectively.

Dr. Staats said nationally about 75% of health care works are vaccinated and 96% of medical doctors have received the shot.

She said that sends a strong message to patients and hopefully to the nurses and other staff.

“I think by saying, you know 96% of us have been vaccinated, we’ve answered that question to the public, what would you do doc? We would get vaccinated. We know it’s far better than risking getting sick,” she said.

The Department of Health told News4Jax in an email, “Florida has reached a milestone of 60% vaccination rate of all eligible populations.”

Also, in the last month, 6% of all COVID-19 cases have been among people already vaccinated.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.