CHATHAM CO., Ga, (WSAV)- Georgia’s path toward achieving herd immunity could be stifled by COVID-19 variants and vaccine hesitancy.
Cases locally and across the state are trending down, but health officials say this is no time for a victory lap.
“That’s the dynamics of the virus in the community,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the President, “it starts to go down, then it plateaus, it inches up and then you get a surge.”
Fauci says state’s pulling back restrictions prematurely could lead us into this vicious cycle.
Here, in the Coastal Empire cases are trending down, but Dr. Lawton Davis says that won’t last if people refuse vaccinations.
“Unfortunately, we are still not seeing the numbers of people who are eligible to vaccinate, go out, and get vaccinated,” said Dr. Davis.
A Kaiser Family Family Foundation poll found that only about 4 in 10 health care workers have been vaccinated.
Davis says locally, less than 50 % of those young and eligible are opting for the shot.
“We would rather achieve herd immunity through vaccinations than through actual infection,” said Davis, “because you don’t spread the virus if you’re vaccinated, whereas, if you’re infected while you are waiting to develop your immunity you may spread it to somebody else.”
When there is more viral transmission in a community means, the virus is likely to mutate and create variants.
Dr. Fauci says we have to ‘outrun’ those variants.
“Thank goodness the vaccines that we have work very well against 1.1.7,” said Fauci.
“That’s why I keep saying it’s a race between the vaccine and the virus, let’s get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can,” he added.
In Georgia, just over 16% of the population have received their first vaccination dose, that’s lower than the national average.
Davis says St. Patrick’s day celebrations could put us at risk for another surge, however, the Coastal Empire did see some of its lowest case rates this week, since early November.