Coastal Health District gives update on COVID-19 cases, vaccine distribution

Coastal Health District gives update on COVID-19 cases, vaccine distribution

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - COVID-19 cases continue to trend down in Chatham County and the Coastal Health District.

The community transmission index sits at some of the lowest rates we have seen since last summer.

Despite this health leaders say we still have a way to go in vaccination efforts to reach herd immunity.

With a mass vaccine site opened in Savannah and dozens of other providers offering the COVID-19 shot to an expanded group, some slots are going unfilled. Governor Kemp in a visit to the Hostess City last week said some of this was due to a hesitancy.

“Reluctance to take it is a very real thing. I’m not sure I understand why at this point in time, but I think it’s probably about the same here as it is everywhere else,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Director of the Coastal Health District.

Dr. Davis says they have done a lot to help combat the reluctance from education to discussions and more. He says the Chatham County Health Department did close to 4,000 vaccinations last week alone and they have remained busy. Looking at the data he believes we have seen a benefit from those who have signed up to get their shot.

“I know that based on the demographics the percentage of people who have been vaccinated it’s likely to be higher than in others and those locations the new cases per week is minimal and most of those may be visitors even so I do think vaccine are helping and more people that we can get vaccinated you know the better.”

He says the vaccine gives us hope we can return to normalcy and that’s evident with the new guidance for vaccinated individuals. New data also suggests the vaccines are protective against asymptomatic infection, which is a win for health professionals.

“I would search out a place and get any one of the three vaccines. I think they are all effective, they are all safe and they seem to be providing not only protection against severe illness, but also against those silent or minimally symptomatic infections that we were concerned about and so I would encourage everybody as soon as your eligible to go get a vaccination.”

While there is still demand for the vaccine, Dr. Davis says there are plenty of appointments and sites open to give COVID-19 vaccines in our community.

According to Georgia’s vaccine dashboard, so far Chatham County has administered a total of 126,000 vaccines.

Dr. Davis says despite the Georgia Emergency Mass Vaccination Site, Chatham County continued to give about 4,000 shots last week.

Dr. Davis says right now people seem to be less frantic about booking a vaccination appointment though they have remained busy. He says there are a lot of options for where you can get a shot.

“More people are receiving vaccine and will be able to administer it, you know more providers and so I really think that anybody who wants the vaccine and is currently eligible should have no trouble finding a place to get it now and I anticipate that they’ll open it up to anyone who wants it you know within the next week or ten days or so.”

Coastal Health District gives update on COVID-19 cases, vaccine distribution

Current eligibility includes those 55 and older along with those 16 and older with high risk health conditions in addition to school staff, court employees and more. Estimates say that’s a large portion of the states population, but Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, has said a further expansion is to be expected sooner than later.

WTOC asked Dr. Lawton Davis if the Coastal Health District could accommodate a further increase.

“Yes I do. I think that many of the people who are still out there you know are in the younger healthier population and I don’t really know what the uptake is going to be by that population. I would anticipate it would be similar to the younger healthcare you know workers and what we saw from there was anywhere from you know 40-55 percent of the people who were eligible took it and so I’m not sure that even when it’s opened up to everybody that we’re just going to be overwhelmed.”

While Dr. Davis could not provide a guess for the rate of vaccination in our community, he says we still have a long way to go to reach herd immunity and encourages you to get any vaccine you can get when eligible.

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