AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo area COVID-19 vaccinations decrease as Public Health Officials work to get more people inoculated.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 35% to 37% of the population is fully vaccinated in Potter and Randall Counties, less than 40% in much of the Panhandle.
Now, a local doctor said vaccine hesitancy could leave us more susceptible to future variants and slow down our return to normalcy.
“We have a lot of folks that are deeply concerned about the vaccine, very hesitant, some just outright won’t even have a conversation around it. And that number appears to be a lot larger than we hoped it would be,” said Dr. Rodney Young, Regional Chair of Family and Community Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Young said we are nowhere near herd immunity as the Delta variant spreads.
“That means that once this delta variant is in full swing in this area, we’re likely to have quite a few people infected and some of those people are going to travel they’re going to see people from other areas that while they don’t know they’re infected, they allow the spread to propagate,” said Dr. Young.
Dr. Young said getting vaccinated is our best shot.
“If enough of us will do that, we can shut this thing down. If we won’t do it, it will continue to flare up and have outbreaks in areas like this where our level of vaccine acquired protections are low and that will allow it time to mutate and learn new ways around it. And a future variant might not be protected at all by our current vaccines,” said Dr. Young.
Dr. Young attributes some vaccine hesitancy to dangerously politicized information.
“I promise you, the virus is neither Democrat nor Republican, it does not understand the politics of this. So this is really not a matter of political agenda. It is a matter of public health and safety.”
While some are still hesitant, Jessica Turner, who works at the VA was not, and on Thursday, she took her daughter to get the shot and encourages others who might be on the fence to do the same.
“I was looking forward to the day that my daughter could get vaccinated, can’t wait till my other daughters can get vaccinated,” said Turner. “It’s for your life. It’s for your health. It’s for I mean, and all of our loved ones and those around us and for humanity.”
Dr. Young said the medical community is working to share more data on vaccines showing their efficacy and safety levels as compared to contracting COVID-19 or a variant strain.