TAMPA, Fla. — The push to get more people vaccinated will move into high gear as Florida gets ready to open up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine next week. New data shows there’s a continuing shift in people who say they plan to get vaccinated and those who say they’ll wait.
So far, the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) data shows more than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated in the Tampa Bay area.
“I’m a mother of three boys. I worry for them,” said Michelle Tovar. “I worry for my parents, I worry for my family, [and] my students as well.”
Tovar got her second dose of the vaccine Thursday. She admits in the beginning, she wanted to wait and make sure the vaccine was safe.
“I did have a change of heart, just feeling like, I love science. I do teach science, so I’m a believer of science, and the more I researched and the more I read, I felt comfortable with the vaccination,” said Tovar.
Other people may be having that change of heart, too.
The latest data from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s ongoing research project shows about six in ten adults say they’ve gotten at least one dose of the vaccine or will get it as soon as they can, up since February.
At the same time, the data shows the share of people who want to "wait and see" went down.
Dr. Nishant Anand, the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for Baycare Health System, said those trends are great news.
“I think it’s the data, the safety, and the comfort level that we’re continuing to see, so we’re very optimistic that more and more people will choose to receive the vaccine, and that in the end is going to lead to lives saved and a return to normal,” said Dr. Anand.
The data also shows there’s still a group who say they will definitely not get the vaccine, which has stayed about the same since December.
If you’re hesitant, Dr. Anand says sometimes the facts can help put your mind at ease, noting more and more people are getting the vaccine and are doing well. Experts say the vaccine can be an added layer of protection to variants, too.
“The UK variant is spreading within Florida, and the good news is both vaccines are effective, in both Moderna and Pfizer, and we would encourage people to get the vaccine,” said Anand.
Dr. Manuel Gordillo, the Medical Director of SMH Infection Prevention and Control, said we need all adults, including young adults, to get vaccinated and explained why getting people vaccinated has a societal benefit.
“Each vaccine is like a speed bump, so it slows the pandemic, and at some point, we’re going to slow it to a halt, which is what we want so we can return to our normal life,” said Dr. Gordillo.