COVID-19 and Vaccinations: What You Need to Know from Lee Health’s Experts

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COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continue to increase across Florida hospitals as the delta variant spreads.

But there’s good news. Dr. Larry Antonucci, CEO and President of Lee Health, said that approved vaccines remain the best way to prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19 — and vaccines are readily available for those who are eligible.

“If you have not been vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to seriously consider it,” Dr. Antonucci said. “There is significant evidence for the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. And the risks associated with getting COVID-19 are higher than those of the vaccines.”

People who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 represent the vast majority of patients hospitalized during the surge.

Dr. Antonucci also encourages people to resume social distance safety precautions and wear masks while inside public places.

According to the CDC, the amount of virus in a person infected with delta is a thousand times more than what is seen in people infected with the original version of the virus. The new evidence prompted the CDC to update guidance for fully vaccinated people.

“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raise concerns that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said in a statement. “The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones.”

Some people are still skeptical about the effectiveness of vaccines, so here are a couple of things to note:

  • Getting vaccinated helps protect you and others around you, particularly those who may be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • The delta variant is more transmissible than the previous predominated COVID strain that circulated in the U.S. A single dose of Pfizer vaccine is only 33% protective against it, so it is important that you get both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. A recent study shows that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine provide about 88% protection.

Vaccine development occurred after decades of research

  • It’s a common misperception that the COVID-19 vaccine’s development was rushed. Researchers had a head start after formulating vaccines for other coronaviruses and applied the knowledge they obtained after the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2012 MERS outbreak.
  • Decades of messenger RNA (mRNA) research also contributed to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to prior research, the rapid spread of COVID-19 made developing vaccines a worldwide priority, which allowed funding to become available quickly and enabled scientists to work rapidly to ensure vaccine safety.

Vaccine side effects are usually mild

Some people are hesitant to receive the vaccine because they want to avoid the side effects, which may include sore muscles, fatigue, or mild fever generally lasting only a day or two. However, the lingering effects of COVID infection can last for weeks, months or longer, and that is why vaccination is so important.

The presence of side effects after vaccination does not affect your body’s immune response to the vaccination. If you experience side effect symptoms lasting for greater than a couple of days, seek the advice of your physician as you are still at risk for developing COVID from an exposure because your

Vaccination is an important step in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. At Lee Health, we urge you to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Our vaccination clinic is open to anyone age 12+, and you can get an appointment as early as this week.

You should be vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID-19

If you have already had COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. Antibodies that develop from having COVID may only stay in our bodies for a limited time, and the vaccine provides further protection.

All COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing the disease, and have been given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.

Based on data from clinical trials and what is known about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help keep you from becoming seriously ill if you do contract COVID-19.

Remember, get the vaccine, wear your masks, socially distance when around others, and stay home if you are sick.

Vaccination Locations

Lee Health has a vaccination clinic at Gulf Coast Hospital open to anyone ages 12+, and appointments are available starting at 7 a.m. Click here for more info and availability.

For children, Golisano Children’s Hospital offers the Mobile Pediatric Vaccination Clinic, which will be making stops around SW Florida to vaccinate children 12+ for COVID-19. The clinic is tailored for children and staffed with a pediatric registered nurse to administer the vaccine.

Also, the mobile vaccination unit has a pharmacist, EMT or paramedic, and customer service team to assist in the process.

The mobile unit will be set up at schools through the summer and various community locations for parents who would like to get their children vaccinated. A parent or authorized guardian must accompany a minor for vaccination. The second dose will be set for the same location or one nearby.

The Mobile Pediatric Vaccination Clinic is walk-up only, and there is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here for upcoming dates and locations.

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