Local doctor stresses the importance of increasing the vaccination rate in Bay County

Bay County

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — According to the Florida Department of Health 57 percent of Floridians are fully vaccinated. As of last week, the vaccination rate in Bay County is at 40 percent.

These low rates are particularly due to young adults choosing not to get the shot. Doctor Rubina Azam with Baldwin Pediatrics said that’s concerning.

“So we have to make sure that our community is safe and we have high rates of vaccination,” Azam said. “40 percent is not enough.”

Dr. Azam said we need to reach a vaccination rate of 80 or 90 percent to achieve herd immunity, especially with the delta variant on the rise. The Florida DOH reported that as of last week, only 28 percent of people ages 12 to 19 have gotten the shot. 

“In order to keep the vaccination rates high in the community and protect the adults and the older people we have to get kids vaccinated too,” Azam said.

Dr. Azam said being fully vaccinated is our best chance at putting an end to this pandemic and also protecting yourself from the more deadly and highly contagious variants coming from this virus.

“We are not expecting a nationwide surge, but communities that have low vaccination rates can easily get affected by the delta variant,” Azam said. 

Dr. Azam said the availability of the vaccine is not the issue anymore but instead the misconceptions. She said people should weigh the risks of not getting the shot versus the risks of getting it.

“We need to educate our patients and we need to educate everyone that the COVID-19 vaccine and the full two doses are super important for protection,” Azam said. 

She said it is important people are fully vaccinated because with the first dose you only have about 50 percent protection. Whereas with two doses your immune system is more prepared to fight the virus. 

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