Health experts examine vaccine rates across the state

Posted at 7:20 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 07:49:00-05

TAMPA — As more COVID-19 vaccines doses continue to roll into Florida, expert are studying the vaccination rate.

“We’re now at almost 4.3 million doses in Florida. On a per capita basis when we adjust for our population size, that’s more than the other 4 biggest states in the United States. More than California, Texas, New York, and Illinois. Of those 4.3 million doses that we’ve received, we’ve administered 69% percent of those, that means we’ve got 2.9 million doses that we’ve given to people and another 1.4 million doses that are still waiting to get into people’s arms,” said Dr. Jason Salemi, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at USF College of Public Health.

Data shows, in about the past week, the state has given about 84,000 doses per day.

However, across the state, there’s a big variety with each county’s vaccination rate for people 65 and older

“So we go from a high of over 60% in Leon County to only 18% in highlands county, Hillsborough now is at 29.1%, so we’re almost going to be the first county in the west central region that eclipses 30% so I really don’t know what’s underlying that county level variation. Whether it has to do with logistics or how many doses the county is receiving. Obviously something we want to explain why there’s such a big disparity,” said Salemi.

He says vaccine distribution in general is always a bit tricky with logistical issues.

“We’ll never move fast enough for people to be comfortable. When you’re hearing stories on a daily basis of people who are trying to sign up on a web based system or trying to call in and they’re not able to get through, they’re trying to get their loved ones in and they’re not able to get through, you’re going to really focus on the frustration side of this,” said Salemi.

In Florida, about 65% of people 65 and older haven’t even received their first dose yet, so frustration is understandable.

“If you look at how many doses we’re receiving, what proportion we’re administering, and you look at Florida relative to other states in the rest of the United States, you know we’re kind of middle of the pack on a lot of these indicators. Volume wise, we’re doing more doses than most states, but we also received more doses and we have a bigger population,” said Salemi.

Experts say it’s hard to predict when there will be enough doses for everyone who wants a vaccine because of a lack of consistency in the doses the state is currently getting.

“It depends on a continuous stream of doses coming from the federal government. You could project out best on how many we’ve been receiving but again it ebbs and flows,” said Salemi.