Doctors say most of the people who are severely ill are unvaccinated.
About 430 people were hospitalized July 15 with COVID-19 in AdventHealth hospitals across Central Florida, an increase of more than 100 people since the same time last week, and a result of the highly contagious Delta variant.
“The good news is that we are not seeing infection in patients who are fully vaccinated in the hospital,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, an epidemiologist and executive director of infection prevention, at today’s AdventHealth Morning Briefing.
Hsu said the Delta strain, which mutated from the original COVID-19 virus and is now the dominant variant, is also infecting fully vaccinated people, though they are not typically sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.
With school set to start in less than four weeks Hsu and Dr. Michael Keating, chief medical officer for AdventHealth for Children, said they “strongly recommend” parents vaccinate any child who is 12 or older. The vaccine could become available to younger children later this year or in early 2022.
Vaccine appointments are available to anyone 12 and older at CentraCare.org. AdventHealth is also offering vaccines to all patients in the hospital as part of its efforts to make the vaccine easy and accessible to the community.
Keating said that unlike the adult population, the number of children hospitalized with COVID has not increased recently. However, the risks of a potential COVID infection far outweigh any potential risks associated with the vaccine, he said.
The risk, for example, that a child would develop heart inflammation from the vaccine is about 1 in 10,000, he said. The chances of a child developing severe complications from COVID or spreading the virus to adults who could become gravely ill are far higher, he said.
The vaccine is the best protection, Keating said.
“It doesn’t make you bulletproof against the COVID virus, but what it does is it basically puts Kevlar on you so that you’re not going to feel the full impact of the virus,” he said.
Hsu said it is still possible for the region and state to reach herd immunity if enough people become vaccinated.
“With variants there are risks that the vaccine won’t be as effective … but even with Delta it’s still shown to have a significant protective effect,” he said. “It’s not too late.”