As Flagler Health Department staffers and National Guard members were administering the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine to school employees at Flagler Palm Coast High School gym Saturday, a group of those who’d just received their shot and were waiting the required 15 minutes of observation just broke out in dance.
“The moment came when we looked over our shoulders with the paramedics guiding the dancing along with some teachers,” Bob Snyder, the Flagler County Health Department chief who was leading the clinic that day, said. “It just was an automatic, joyful, cheerful, spontaneous reaction to getting that shot.”
“We got it going on in Flagler County, yes we do,” Snyder tells Tammy Brown, the Guard’s Incident Management Response team leader, who thought the moment was worth preserving on a video that also briefly and aptly captures the role Snyder has been playing relentlessly for the past year, his cheer never flagging before what had at one time seemed an impossible task. On Saturday, he was cheering the long-awaited beginning of the pandemic’s end:
So it was on a day that saw 150 school staffers vaccinated at the gym (a federal order makes all school employees eligible for the vaccine regardless of age, overriding Florida’s cut-off, which had made only those school staffers 50 and older eligible) while 100 people got their second and final shot at the county airport, bringing the week’s total to 5,700 shots administered in all locations countywide.
Today alone 771 people received their second shot at the county fairgrounds. Flagler County now ranks seventh out of 67 counties for the percent of the population vaccinated, up one position since last week.
Overall, 31,000 people in the county, or 27 percent of the population, have received at least one dose (up from 26,734 last week) and 14.5 percent have completed their series, receiving either of the two required Moderna or Pfizer shots or the single-dose J&J vaccine. Among those 65 and over, fully two-thirds of Flagler County’s population have received at least one vaccine.
“That’s an amazing number,” Flagler County Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord said this evening as he summed up the covid situation for the county commission.
The county is continuing to receive 1,300 doses intended for first shots and 1,600 second doses of the Moderna vaccine.
“All facilities, all group homes, all long term care facilities, that number, 72 total in our community, everyone has received their first dose and well on their way to receiving their second dose,” Snyder said, as have 250 Flagler residents who are homebound–unable to drive or leave their homes because of chronic medical conditions.
The department has also began its outreach in churches and community centers to more effectively reach minorities or underserved communities, where reluctance to get vaccinated may be more pronounced. “That’s why we’re transitioning in part to church hall, community centers, because of the strong connection we have with our faith-based communities,” Snyder said. It’s paid dividends. Three weeks ago Blacks made up just 4.3 percent of the total of those getting vaccinated, even though the county’s proportion of Blacks is 10.9 percent. Today that proportion is up to 6 percent.
There were vaccination clinics at Bunnell’s Carver Gym and community center on Feb. 26 and March 5. On March 6, the vaccination clinic was at First United Methodist Church in Bunnell. On Tuesday, the clinic will be at Palm Coast’s Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, and on Friday it’ll be at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Catholic church on belle Terre Parkway.
“The idea is to begin the transition from the fairgrounds to indoor vaccination sites, so that we can scatter across the county to be as at many locations as we can, even at the same time, in addition to the fairgrounds for right now,” Snyder said. “But at some point we’re going to have to leave the fairgrounds because of the heat and the rain.”
Throughout, no one in Flagler has reported any grave adverse reactions to the vaccines. “We’ve had no serious reactions from any of the doses at the fairgrounds, other than we’ve had maybe five to 10 occasions where an individual felt just a little weak, a little clammy, and it had more to do with anxiety and not being hydrated and missing breakfast,” Snyder said. The second Moderna vaccine does hit some people harder than others, leaving them tired and at times feverish for about 15 hours. But that’s an indication that the immune system is kicking in, and that the vaccine is working.
In a conference call with Kevin Guthrie, the state’s emergency management director, Snyder said Guthrie was predicting that age limits for the vaccine would soon fall to 55 or 50 for all “soon,” from 60 currently. Lord, speaking to the county commission, said he expects that every week to two weeks will see another incremental increase in age eligibility, by increments of about five years.
The average daily case load of new coronavirus infections has also fallen last week for the first time in the last four weeks, the daily average of new infections falling from 24 to 19. Emergency room visits related to covid-like symptoms are trending down. The number of people hospitalized at AdventHealth Palm Coast on a primary diagnosis of covid is at 11, less than a third of the post-holiday peak.
Snyder said the British variant of the coronavirus, a more infectious variant, has resulted in two confirmed cases in Flagler County, but that number hasn’t changed in several weeks. Volusia has had five cases, St. Johns has had one, and Florida has had 753, with Broward at 283.
In Florida, 4.3 million people have received at least one shot, or nearly a fifth of the population, and 2.4 million have received both shots, or 11 percent, up from 9 percent seven days ago. A total of 6.5 million doses have been administered statewide, including 1.5 million in the past seven days, more than double the previous week.
Still, Florida ranks 35th in the rate of inoculation among American states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. New Mexico, Alaska and South Dakota are first, with 25 percent of their population inoculated. Puerto Rico is at the bottom of the chart, at 14 percent, with Georgia at 16 percent, Alabama at 16 and Washington, D.C., at 17. Several other Southern states are near the bottom.
Keep in mind: Flagler’s vaccination numbers only reflect the total number of shots administered in the county. The numbers are not resident-specific. In other words, numerous residents from other counties may have gotten their shots in Flagler, just as numerous Flagler County residents are traveling to St. Johns, Volusia, Duval and elsewhere to get theirs.
In the United States, 21 percent of the population has received at least one shot, 11 percent has received both. That places the United States in fifth place worldwide in the rate of vaccination, behind Israel, which has vaccinated 100 percent of its population with at least one shot (not including Palestinians under Israeli occupation), the United Arab Emirates, Chile and and Great Britain, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data (see below).
The nation was inoculating just under 200,000 people per day in late December. The seven-day average was up to 900,000 a day by Jan. 20. It is now 2.43 million per day. At the current pace, half the population of the United States will be vaccinated with at least one dose by May 15, 70 percent by June 26, and 90 percent by Aug. 7. Just three weeks ago, that 90 percent goal was projected only for Christmas.
As of today, 94 Flagler County residents have died of the disease, 344 have been hospitalized (an increase of seven in the past week), and 6,202 have been confirmed to have been infected. The actual number of infections is significantly higher, health department officials estimate.
In Florida, 1.98 million residents have been infected, 32,348 have died of the disease. Deaths in the United States from covid-19 are at 534,883. Some 29.5 million Americans have been infected.
- Coronavirus Vaccination Worldwide
- The latest Flagler and Florida vaccination report
- CDC Covid vaccine data tracker
- The Feb. 23 vaccine update