SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s been a month since vaccine eligibility opened up to everyone over the age of 16 in Georgia.
The states vaccine dashboard shows only 23 percent of the peach state is fully vaccinated at this point.
It’s no secret they wish more people were willing to sign up and be vaccinated at clinics like at the health dept.
With the rate of vaccination as is, they say we have a long way to go to reach herd immunity.
“We’re well off the mark. It means that our communities are still at risk for spread and surges and the impacts that come with those,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, Infectious Disease, Memorial Health.
A look at eight counties in the Coastal Health District shows a range of vaccine uptake, but none exceed 22 percent so far. Several vaccine clinics are experiencing decreased demand.
“On one hand it’s disappointing that we don’t have more people making first dose appointments, but we do still have some people making first dose appointments and so I think gradually the vaccines are being accepted. We also need to remember that we’re only 4 months and 10 days into vaccinating,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Director of the Coastal Health District.
Dr. Lawton Davis of the Coastal Health District says he believes as time goes on and data is shared people will be vaccinated, but it isn’t happening quickly. He does say there is one bright spot that should encourage others.
“The senior population those 65 maybe even 60 and over in our area you know get my gold star. They have done very well we’re 65 and over I don’t know the exact percentage, but we’re certainly over 75 percent maybe even 80 percent vaccinated and I think that’s fabulous,” said Dr. Davis.
Local doctors feel in this population it’s clear to see the vaccine is doing it’s job, preventing illness and spread. They hope others will follow suit.
“We’re seeing that the vaccines work. When we look at the rates of hospitalization in those age 65 and older we’ve seen dramatic decrease in that. They used to be the number one age group per capita when you look at hospitalizations and that’s really changing. Folks that are younger who have not had either the opportunity to get vaccinated yet or have just not pursued it you know we’re seeing that the trends are staying the same,” said Dr. Thacker.
Officials say vaccine hesitancy isn’t new and has been a challenge in the South East before. They hope to be able to craft the message for those still on the fence, provide clear and concise data and think of creative ideas to help those needing a vaccine.
They say it’s especially important as we see the variant and how the virus is impacting places like India.