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Saturday, June 15, 2024
COVID 19  |  UF

COVID-19 Update: Cases continue dropping as booster shot rollout begins

Boosters are being offered nationwide to adults at high risk of infection along with people 65 and older

The number of UF affiliates quarantined fell by about 24% from Sept. 21 to Sept. 28. 

Since March 18, 2020, UF Health has recorded more than 8,400 positive COVID-19 cases among UF students. On Sept. 27, 143 students were quarantined, a decrease of about 29% from Sept. 20.

Nearly 50 people have tested positive for the virus since Sept. 21. Almost twice as many people tested positive the prior week. Numbers show no major impact from Gators’ football games yet.

As case numbers fall, UF Health Shands Hospital continues to follow federal guidance, providing booster shots to those at least 65 years old and other vulnerable people. 

The seven-day average for UF cases fell by about 34% from Sept. 11 to 18. 

The national average for the week of Sept. 17 to 24 is 121,533 — a decrease of about 17% from the previous week.

New positive cases in Alachua County fell by about 41% the week of Sept. 24 compared to the prior week. As of Sept. 24, there have been 38,161 total cases in the county.

Total COVID-19 inpatients in the county fell by about 18% from Sept. 22 to Sept. 28. As of Tuesday, 40 inpatients are in the ICU and 26 are on a ventilator. 

Of all UF Health patients, 86% were unvaccinated Sept. 28.

For Alachua County Public Schools, seven new cases were reported and 338 students were quarantined Sept. 28, a decrease of about 17% from the day prior.

In the last 14 days, 154 students and 11 adults tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Alachua County School District on Sept. 28. 

Alachua County weekly vaccination numbers fell by 36% when compared to the previous week. Following last week’s trend, 68% of people at least 12 years old in the county are vaccinated.

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Florida ranked third in the nation for COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 Sept. 28, with 311.3 daily average deaths. Monoclonal antibody therapy treatments are now available in the state. 

COVID-19 booster shots are now becoming available to more people.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved third doses of the Pfizer vaccine Sept. 22 for those who are eligible. Only people at least 65 years old or people older than 18 with high risk of severe infection and complications from COVID-19 can get the booster shot. 

Boosters’ side effects were found to be similar to those from second doses, according to a CDC study published Sept. 28. The symptoms mostly ranged from mild to moderate. Arm pain, fatigue and headaches were most commonly reported after third doses. The effects usually began the day after injections, and 28% of people said they were unable to perform normal daily activities due to the symptoms.

Arm pain was slightly more common after the third dose compared to the second, the report found. Headaches and fatigue were slightly less common after the third shot compared to the second.

Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a member of the CDC, said she wasn’t surprised by the apparent safety of boosters.

“We are very comfortable with the safety of these vaccines,” she said. “They’ve been given to millions and millions and millions and millions of people.”

However, Talbot said the CDC will continue to monitor the shots and look for adverse effects.

“We’re always going to be cautious and careful,” she said.

About 2.8 million people in the United States have already received a third shot since mid-August, when Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines were approved for immunocompromised people.

UF Health will be following the CDC recommendations for providing Pfizer boosters, UF Health spokesperson Ken Garcia wrote in an email. UF Health made the boosters available to UF Health faculty and staff Sept. 27. Patients meeting the eligibility criteria were also able to get their booster shot at some UF Health Outpatient Pharmacies and Physicians practices starting Sept. 27. An appointment is required at physician practice sites. 

UF is offering COVID-19 testing at the UF Cultural Plaza Parking Garage and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. UF Health and Alachua County are offering walk-up vaccinations.

Contact J.P. Oprison at Follow him on Twitter @JOprison.

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J.P. Oprison

JP is a fourth-year journalism major with a minor in history. He is currently the health reporter for The Alligator, focusing on how the pandemic is affecting Alachua County and the thousands of students in Gainesville. In his free time, JP likes to exercise at the gym and relax on the beach.

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