WATCH: City encouraging vaccinations, making plans for booster shots

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 4:51 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 3:22 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - City officials continue urging residents to get vaccinated and wear masks as Delta variant COVID cases continue to increase.

Hospitals still full of COVID patients

Lubbock health authority Dr. Ron Cook thanked everyone who has come out to get vaccinated recently, but said, “Our hospitals remain full, our ICUs remain full. Please know that 90% of our hospitalized patients here in Lubbock remain unvaccinated.”

Dr. Cook said the average age of hospitalized patients is much younger with this Delta variant. The average age of hospitalized patients is currently 53. The average age of patients on a ventilator is 48.

Dr. Cook said, “We are seeing an increase in breakthrough infection, but those numbers remain very low. “If you are vaccinated you are much less likely to be hospitalized, so low that it’s hardly measurable. We have a few in the hospital, but not very many, that are vaccinated.”

Free COVID vaccine clinics through Sept. 17
Free COVID vaccine clinics through Sept. 17(City of Lubbock)

Disinformation about deaths from COVID vaccine

Dr. Cook then spoke to people who are reluctant to take the vaccine, reminding everyone that the mRNA science used “is not new.”

“That science has been around for many years,” Cook said. “They’ve even used it in cancer research... It is extremely safe.”

Dr. Cook went on to address “disinformation on the internet” about the number of deaths related to COVID vaccine.

“There have only been three deaths related to COVID vaccine,” Dr. Cook said. “Those were from blood clots early on after Johnson & Johnson was administered. Those side effects can happen from other vaccines, too. They’re so rare, that the other vaccines, we don’t even mention them anymore.”

FDA recommending booster shots

Dr. Cook then addressed FDA guidance about booster shots, recommended for everybody for eight months after your last dose.

Public Health Director Katherine Wells said the city has a plan to distribute booster shots once they receive FDA approval.

Wells said the main difference now is that the city has many community partners with access to vaccine.

“We don’t have a shortage now,” Wells said. “We are looking at opening a larger vaccination clinic to the public, and those plans will be released as soon as they’re finalized.

“Please wear your mask,” Dr. Cook said. “Nobody likes to wear them, but we must stop the disease and get your vaccine.”

Fewer beds available due to staff shortages

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said the hospitalized percentage is going up in our trauma service area because there are fewer total beds available now.

“Those beds are not available due to labor shortages,” Mayor Pope said.

Mayor Pope said there’s a clear inverse relationship between number of vaccinated people compared to number of new cases for each area. Areas with fewer vaccinated people are seeing more new cases.

Mayor Pope said the state is sending 50 new nurses or respiratory therapists split between Covenant and UMC.

Expanded infusion center

The infusion center is still operating at 50th & University, and capacity has been increased.

Mayor Pope said if you test positive, check with your doctor, you may get a referral to the infusion center.

“Infusion helps you stay out of the hospital. It helps you get well,” Mayor Pope said.

Mayor Pope said he was encouraged to hear about the increase in vaccinations. The city will be holding a series of free vaccination clinics at various locations through Sept. 22.

“Don’t rely on your antibodies from having COVID a year ago to protect you,” Pope said. “We have 186 people in the hospital. Ten percent of those have been vaccinated. In ICU, we have 54 patients. One of those patients has been vaccinated. Your chances of a serious illness are much reduced if you’ve been vaccinated.”

Encouraging younger people, minority groups to get vaccinated

Wells said middle aged people are not showing up to get the vaccine.

“People between 20 and 50 are not having the uptick in vaccinations. We do have lower rates in some of our minority communities, and that’s why the Health Department is focusing on those pop up clinics. We really need everybody to step up and get vaccinated,” Wells said.

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