MANATEE COUNTY, Fla — Fourteen million. That's how many people in Florida have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"The vaccination rates we're seeing now, they're getting better but they're not what we were hoping they'd be at this point in time," said Christopher Tittel, the Director of Communications for the Manatee County Department of Health.
The Manatee County Department of Health says in order to reach herd immunity, Florida will need about three million more people to get vaccinated. It's a message they're hoping sinks in quickly as we approach the holidays.
If you're traveling, they say it's especially important to have at least one dose in you before you go.
"Over the holidays we're going to be running into people that we don't know all the time in airport terminals, bus terminals, train stations, wherever that may be. And we don't know what communities those people are coming from if they're coming from communities where COVID-19 transmission rates are higher," said Tittel.
And if you are looking to get the vaccine, they're asking you to book sooner rather than later to fully protect yourself and others.
"I think people think that when they're vaccinated that it's an automatic reaction. That your body's starting to do this and you're going to be fully vaccinated right then and right there. I think the science says it takes about 8-10 days," he said.
To help you find and book an appointment, the Florida Department of Health has rolled out a website called "The Power to Protect." It also contains information that addresses vaccine concerns and busts common myths.
"Women who are breastfeeding it's perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding if you've been vaccinated. People are concerned that this will alter their DNA...[but it] won't do it," said Tittel.
And for all the parents with younger kids out there, the Manatee County DOH also says that it expects to start offering vaccines for kids 5 through 11, within the next week.