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Decrease in COVID-19 vaccinations worries doctors as Florida cases rise again

Coronavirus cases steadily increasing since early June in Florida
Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 20:10:59-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There's a new nationwide push to get more COVID-19 vaccines in arms this July and August.

As coronavirus cases rise again due to the spread of the Delta variant, experts say increasing the number of vaccinations can add more protection for those already vaccinated.

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Over the last few weeks, Florida has seen a downward trend of vaccines being administered but an uptick of COVID-19 cases. Local doctors said 99 percent of positive COVID-19 cases are coming from unvaccinated adults.

Fabrice Lupo of France is visiting West Palm Beach with his family, and their first order of business was to get vaccinated against the virus.

"As soon as we arrived, we went to a pharmacy and we just got the first dose, so it was great," Lupo said.

He's playing it safe and wearing his mask until he's fully vaccinated.

That's a good idea since the CDC's COVID-19 transmission map shows a substantial level of virus transmission for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast when weeks ago it was at moderate.

Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi
Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi discusses the increase in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

"The weather is very nice. Everybody is hanging out and you also have people traveling from all over the state, the country coming in, so yeah it's just a matter of time," said Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi, an infectious disease specialist with Triple O Medical Services.

The doctor said even with the Delta variant, the majority of people contracting COVID-19 locally are unvaccinated.

"I would like to say about 99 percent right now. Pretty much, almost all of them, [have not received the vaccine]," Osiyemi said.

According to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health, the new case positivity rate is at 5.2% for the week of June 25, steadily increasing since the start of June.

MORE: Infectious disease specialist urges vaccinations amid emerging COVID-19 delta variant

Over the last 10 weeks, vaccine administration across the state has dropped from nearly 500,000 at the beginning of June to about 250,000 at the end of the month.

Vaccine doses administered in Florida in June 2021
Statistics from the Florida Department of Health show vaccination numbers dropped significantly in June.

Osiyemi points out that the cases of COVID-19 infections he has seen in vaccinated folks are people who did not complete the full two-dose series.

"People just need to remind themselves where we've been and what we don't want to go back to," Osiyemi said.

In Palm Beach County, nearly half of the population is fully vaccinated.

Michael Tabman of Kansas City is in town looking for a home. He said even with the vaccine, he's being careful.

"I have a lot of confidence in the vaccine, but I cannot say that the Delta variant doesn't concern me," Tabman said.

Experts say the vaccines protect against variants and by increasing the number of vaccinations, you limit the spread of the virus by giving it less of an opportunity to mutate.

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