WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County's top health official says 50% of 16-year-old children in Florida have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking to county commissioners on Tuesday, Dr. Alina Alonso attributed that high total to her belief that parents of 16-year-olds are taking the initiative to bring their underage teens to get vaccinated.
However, when you expand that age group to include 16 to 19-year-olds, only 17% have been vaccinated throughout the state, including 19% in Palm Beach County.
"The 18 and the 19 are on their own and they have more hesitancy, right? Those are the ones we're gonna be targeting very, very soon with our outreaches here in Palm Beach County," Alonso said.
Currently, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for Floridians who are 16 and older.
WATCH HEALTH DIRECTOR'S COMMENTS:
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, these are the percentages of Palm Beach County residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 per age group:
- 16-19: 19%
- 20-24: 22%
- 25-29: 22%
- 30-34: 27%
- 35-39: 32%
- 40-44: 38%
- 45-49: 40%
- 50-54: 48%
- 55-59: 53%
- 60-64: 65%
- 65 and older: 81%
Alonso said all of these percentages are either tied with or slightly above state averages.
"The thing now is, how do we get to those people now that are hesitant to get the vaccine? That's the key now," Alonso said. "It's trying to get to those who are not getting it."
The strategies to overcome some of that vaccine hesitancy include opening up vaccine access in more local colleges and universities, better community outreach, and transitioning from mass vaccinations to targeted community groups consisting of minorities "which are hardest hit in terms of mortality and morbidity."
Alonso said 425,891 people in Palm Beach County are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"We are not over with this fight, even though it seems like we're going in the right direction," Alonso said. "It's not over. If we take our foot off the pedal, it's very easy to slide back."