As Florida’s fourth coronavirus surge risks turning into its worst outbreak yet, the Department of Health is reminding Floridians that vaccines are the most effective way to protect themselves from COVID-19 and end the pandemic.
The vaccines reduce the risks of people contracting COVID-19, of suffering severe symptoms, of having to be admitted to hospitals, and of death from the virus, Department of Health Communications Director Weesam Khoury said in a written statement Monday.
“The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be vital to ending the pandemic, including combating the recent case increases nationally and globally,” Khoury’s statement said.
The latest surge — surpassing 16,000 newly confirmed cases one day this week — is being defined by many public health officials as a pandemic among the unvaccinated. While breakthrough cases — vaccinated people getting COVID-19 — are happening, the vast majority of new cases are among people who have not been vaccinated, as are the vast majorities of hospitalizations and deaths due to the disease.
The surge comes at a time when anti-vaccination social currents pushed back against the state’s vaccination efforts this summer, slowing down vaccination progress. Florida now has hit the 60% milestone of eligible people having received at least one shot. Florida says the rate is over 84% among highly vulnerable senior citizens.
Wednesday night in a speech in Utah, Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to downplay the surge as just a seasonal phenomenon. Lately, he has provided only causal endorsements of the vaccines, saying they are safe and effective but stopping short of urging them. This comes as vaccine hesitancy appears most widespread among Republicans.
There is no hesitancy suggested in the statement the Department of Health issued Tuesday. It advises that the vaccine:
— Significantly reduces the risk of contracting the virus even if you are exposed.
— Teaches your body how to fight the virus.
— Reduces the risk of severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death if you contract the virus.
— Minimizes the ability for the virus to spread, especially to our most vulnerable populations.
— Fights against emerging variants that can cause worse symptoms and spread.
“If you are vaccinated and develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should keep your distance and be evaluated by your health care provider, and get tested,” the statement advises.
The guidance directs people to the department’s COVID-19 information site to find locations for testing.