As Florida passes the 1 million vaccine marker, white Floridians were three times as likely to get the vaccine as Black Floridians, even as the virus has infected and killed higher rates of Black residents.
Florida’s COVID vaccine data so far doesn’t track ethnicity, which means Hispanic white and non-Hispanic white people are counted in the same category. It’s possible then that non-Hispanic white people have an even higher rate of vaccines.
About 15 percent of people who’ve gotten vaccines have an “unknown” race, which adds another wrench in efforts to track disparities in the vaccine rollout.
Unlike other states that have put up sharp restrictions on who could get the vaccine — New York’s governor even went so far as to threaten to strip doctors of their licenses and to issue million-dollar fines if they deviated from the state’s strict vaccine guidelines — Florida used a simpler model: healthcare workers and those over the age of 65.
There were perceived upsides and downsides to this model, as the Miami Herald’s Ben Conarck reported. It would be easier to administer and potentially reduce the amount of wasted vaccines. Yet younger people were more likely to transmit the disease. One expert said vaccinating younger essential workers could garner more buy-in from disenfranchised communities by prioritizing them.
“There’s more to it sometimes than just the cold hard numbers,” Natalie Dean of the University of Florida told the Herald. “There’s something to be said for the appearance of the vaccine program.”
We still don’t know if the vaccine prevents people from transmitting the disease to others or if it just prevents people from falling ill.
Florida’s vaccination rates so far, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been better than most states.
Considering the idea of simplifying the vaccine plan was supposed to ensure more vaccines got delivered to people, it’s somewhat surprising Florida’s rate of administering vaccine doses is middling, with just two-fifths of vaccine doses administered, according to the CDC.
But another upshot of Florida’s plan is that it has been effective at vaccinating about one in seven people 65 or older, according to the Department of Health’s daily updates.
Initially, when the first to get vaccinated were mostly frontline medical workers, a large share of those getting the vaccine were younger, but it wasn’t long until it shifted drastically to those most at-risk.
About one in 12 people 65 or older who contracted the virus have died in Florida, compared to one in 317 among those younger than 65.
Among the state’s most populous counties, Duval has the second-highest vaccination rate so far, according to the state health department’s data, with about 5 percent of the population vaccinated.
North Florida, overall, has seen more vaccinations than Central and South Florida.
More than 7 percent of St. Johns, the wealthy suburb to Duval’s southeast, has vaccinated; nearly six percent of Nassau, the northern suburb, has vaccinated; and about four percent of Clay County has vaccinated.
Last Saturday, while my wife was getting her second vaccination, I had planned to take my boys for a bike ride.
I woke up exhausted and crippled in pain. It felt like a migraine combined with a sinus infection, an ear infection and a throat infection. I was more tired than I could ever remember.
The next day, while my wife was working at the hospital, I felt even worse and scheduled a COVID test.
Just a week earlier, my wife, my 5-year-old and I had tested negative, a precautionary test before school started back.
This time, my rapid and PCR tests both came back positive.
Since then, I’ve barely left my bed.
Thankfully, my wife and kids have continued to test negative. While in isolation, I’ve been increasing the ventilation rate in my room by opening the door from our bedroom to the outside, by replacing our A/C filter with a MERV 13 filter, by keeping the fan on and my windows up and by running an air purifier at all times.
USA Today did a good feature about the importance of increasing airflow to prevent aerosols from infecting others. I’m grateful I didn’t get infected during the summer when it would’ve been much harder to keep windows open.
My symptoms have gotten significantly better. I’m mostly just exhausted all the time, and my brain feels fuzzy and unable to focus for long stretches of time. I do find myself short of breath sometimes when I stand, but I think it’s getting easier each day. I’m hoping next week to get re-tested and, fingers crossed, to leave isolation.
Start your week off…
I’m hoping I can get some more work done this week than I have the last week and a half. If all goes well, then I’m planning to share a story next week on segregation and school performance.
I’m also going to finally return emails from potential funders I got this week while I was bed-ridden, and I’m going to reschedule some calls I had to cancel.
Thank you to subscribers
I’ve been able to purchase several batches of public records thanks to the subscriptions I’ve gotten so far.
Without subscribers, it would be harder to get started on some of the projects I’m working on. Your willingness to donate to The Tributary also helps persuade big-dollar funders that this is a project worth supporting.