COVID Vaccine

Pierce County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate lags behind the national and state averages and is lower than half of its neighboring counties, according to statistics provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH).

Only 23% of Pierce County’s population has received both doses of the vaccination for the coronavirus, according to information released last Tuesday. A total of 4,926 Pierce County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with a total of 4,455 receiving both to be fully vaccinated.

That figure is 22% lower than the national average of 45.1% from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a full 13% lower than the state average of 36.2%  from the GDPH.

Compared to surrounding counties, Pierce ranked lower than Ware (27%), Wayne (25%) and Appling (24%), but the vaccination rate for local residents was higher Bacon (21%) and Brantley (17%).

Of the 23% of Pierce County resident vaccinated, females were more likely to take the vaccine by a percentage of 28.7 to 22.7%. A total of 63% of the vaccinations were given to residents 65 and older. The vaccination rates for Blacks were slightly higher than whites at 25.5% to 25.3%.

Vaccines were first developed during the administration of President Donald Trump under a program called “Operation Warp Speed.” Vaccines are now provided by several major companies including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.

Vaccine distribution has been widely available since March. President Joe Biden set a national goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated by Independence Day, July 4, but it appears that goal will not be reached.

Both Former President Trump and President Biden have received the vaccine.

The vaccines are available at the local health department and at various pharmacies in the area. An availability listing is available at www.vaccines.gov/search/.

Katie Hadden, public information officer for the Southeast Health District, enccourages all residents to be vaccinated.

The Southeast Health District is currently working on an “I Said Yes” vaccination campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

The “I Said Yes” campaign will feature local community leaders who have received the vaccine.

Dr. Brent Waters of Blackshear Family Practice says 100 % of the doctors and nurses at his office have gotten the vaccine and he encourages everyone to get it.

“We realize the harm caused by the virus and the remarkable success rate of the vaccine,” Dr. Waters said. “There is a very small rate of complications from the vaccine especially compared to complications from the virus which include requirement for supplemental oxygen, chronic fatigue and increased risk of blood clots.”

Since statistics were started in March, 2020, 49 Pierce Countians have died of COVID and the disease is suspected in the deaths of 12 others. A total of 149 hospitalizations have occurred locally and there have been 1,291 confirmed cases of the disease.

While the rate of infections are “way down” from the peak in January of this year, Waters points out the virus is still present in the community.

“The risk is still there. We continue to have people in the hospital with COVID,” he said.

Statewide, there have been 21,318 deaths since the pandemic began. According to the CDC, nationally there have been 598,713 deaths since the outbreak began.