Some previously hesitant now choosing to get vaccinated amid surge in COVID-19 cases

ORLANDO, Fla. – Two small business owners discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and why it’s pushing some to choose to get vaccinated.

News 6 introduced you to Karen Buckalew, a family nurse practitioner and owner of Boutiq Medical Clinic in Orlando’s Mills 50 district, in July.

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In the weeks since the interview, Buckalew said she saw a sharp rise in demand for COVID tests.

“For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic when I ran out of tests, and went to reorder, my suppliers were actually on backorder,” Buckalew said.

In the last few weeks Buckalew said she saw about 15 patients test positive for COVID-19. Four patients who tested positive were vaccinated, the remaining eleven were unvaccinated. The uptick in cases has led some of her patients who were on the fence about getting the vaccine to reconsider.

“I felt like the vaccine held a little more risk than if I would just catch COVID I would be fine,” Billy Stewart said.

Stewart is another small business owner in Central Florida who has been a patient at Boutiq Medical Clinic since last year. He said he has close family working in local hospitals right now, and his perspective changed after hearing about more young people dying from COVID 19.

“My friend almost died from it. I’ll go ahead and not be stubborn, get the vaccination, that way I can raise my children,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he is not against vaccines, he just had not seen or known anyone his age who experienced severe complications from the COVID-19 virus until now.

“I wouldn’t want to be the person who’s going to get intubated in a hospital due to COVID-19 with two kids at home because I didn’t want to get a vaccine,” he said.

Buckalew administered Stewart’s COVID-19 vaccine and said she welcomes patients who are looking for a serene environment. She also allows patients to text or call her if they have questions before or after getting the vaccine

“For some people, it’s a really big deal. It’s a big choice, so it was a huge hurdle for them to personally and emotionally overcome,” Buckalew said.

Buckalew is stocked up on testing kits and charges $89 per test. She also recently received another shipment of the COVID 19 vaccines which she will give free of charge, by appointment only. She expects this batch of vaccines to last her until mid-September.