Medical experts to explain vaccines, health protocol in virtual town hall

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
An outdoor vaccine clinic. Credit: WINK News

Some people are now going about with no face mask, but others are still covering up—the rules are confusing some people.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health, says it’s important to maintain that protocol, even at this point in the pandemic, especially in the place where people who are sick go to be treated. He also says it’s important to keep the public as informed as possible, which is why Lee Health, Healthcare Network and NCH Healthcare System are hosting a virtual town hall on COVID-19 vaccines at 11 a.m., watchable on each organization’s Facebook pages.

And even if you have “pandemic fatigue” by now, it still may be important to know where we stand right now as a state and city: 47% of Florida is vaccinated, but only 37% of Lee County is vaccinated.

“I think that in any environment where you’re not sure if people are vaccinated or not, there’s always risk for those who are unvaccinated,” Antonucci said. “But if you are vaccinated, I think you can be reasonably comfortable that your risk of getting the disease is pretty small.”

He pointed to the younger population—younger being those under the age of 60 to 65—because he says that what’s happening in Lee County is not unlike the rest of the nation: The older population is running to get the vaccine, and the relatively younger part of the population is little more hesitant.

Some people WINK News spoke to in that younger demographic feel like they need to wait to see how the population at large reacts to the vaccine, saying they are concerned how the vaccine will affect them.

But Antonucci says this is the very reason why the virtual town hall is so important: helath organizations hey want to sift through the misinformation.

<“A lot of people want to know what the short-term effects are, you know, ‘what will I feel like after the vaccine, will I be able to work the next day,’ etc.,” Antonucci said. “And others asked questions about, actually, the technology, how does the technology work? And why does the vaccine work, etc. They also want to know about its effect against the various variant strains that are out there. And so far, it seems that the vaccine is working well against the variants. And, and as more people get vaccinated, we’ll see less and less disease in the community.”

Despite Lee County health officials recommending that as many people get the vaccine as possible, one of the biggest vaccination sites in the county is closing in weeks;
Fort Myers’ Edison Mall vaccine site will close June 18.

Antonucci says that, while he can’t speak for the city, he believes there are so many places around our area where anyone can walk in and get vaccinated that the need for that specific location is not as high.

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