TAMPA, Fla. — The CDC mistakenly counted second doses and booster shots administered to Americans ages 65 and older as initial vaccines, meaning there are more unvaccinated seniors than previously thought.
According to a Bloomberg report, the number of seniors that received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine stood at 99.9 percent for several weeks in the CDC's data. Last weekend, that number changed to 95 percent.
Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a distinguished health professor in The University of South Florida's College of Public Health, fears the highly-contagious omicron variant seeks those at-risk seniors this holiday season.
"People who are unvaccinated are going to be at a really high risk of this virus," he said. "It's a tremendously infectious virus."
According to Unnasch, the virus's reproductive rate in Florida was 1.14, two weeks ago. At the end of last week, he says, the rate shot up to 7.55, which means every 100 Floridians infected by coronavirus are infecting 755 others. Unnasch says the omicron variant is to blame.
"It is tremendously more contagious than anything else," he said.
So contagious, in fact, Unnasch predicts every person in the state of Florida will be exposed to the variant in the next six weeks.
"We'll have 100 percent of the people exposed by Feb. 2, 2021," he said.
Unnasch touts the vaccine with a booster shot as the best defense against omicron, however, he has advice for unvaccinated seniors to stay safe around family on Christmas.
He suggests opening windows to allow air ventilation, wearing a mask as much as possible, and spending some time outdoors. Most importantly, he says, do not spend too much time around other unvaccinated family members.