Lee Health, NCH urging people to get COVID-19 boosters as infection numbers rise

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
FILE – Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. Pfizer said Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

There is a renewed push in Southwest Florida to get your COVID-19 booster shot. Lee Health says now is the best time to get it because the positivity rate in Lee County has started to creep back up.

Lee Health Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Dr. Stephanie Stovall, said, “we are seeing more sickness. It hasn’t transmitted to huge rates of hospitalizations yet.”

Stovall said the increased sickness comes as the omicron variant spreads and more people begin traveling to the area.

“All of those different communities have different rates of transmission. They have different rates of vulnerability. Therefore, those people that are coming in and coming out have a different risk,” said Stovall.

Health experts say the best way to protect yourself is the booster shot.

The reason they give is people who are fully vaccinated and are infected with omicron lose antibody count. With the booster, it regenerates those antibodies.

NCH’s Medical Director, Dr. David Lindner, said, “as our antibodies and immunity does do the wanning that it does, then the booster reminds the body once again. It’s the best defense for most people against omicron.”

It has been almost a year since the vaccine became available, and people are still hesitant.

Doctor Stovall said talking it out helps. “Being able to sit down and explain the science explain the benefit, answer the questions about the risk that they’re perceiving and that they’re concerned about.”

Dr. Lindner said hospitalizations at NCH are still low.

Neither NCH nor Lee Health hospitals have genetic sequencing capabilities. Because of that, they say it’s not clear whether either one has a person hospitalized with the omicron variant.

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