ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In a one-on-one exclusive interview with News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he understands people are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine but that it’s going to take a group effort to get the county where it needs to be in its fight against the coronavirus.
Demings said those who are reluctant need to understand researchers are saying that to reach herd immunity, 70-80% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Herd immunity is when a certain percentage of the population is immune to COVID-19.
[READ MORE: Here’s why Central Florida doctors are encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated | Orlando doctor says COVID-19 vaccine won’t cause infertility, issues with pregnancy | Vaccine hesitancy: Q & A with ICU doctor on real patient concerns]
The mayor says both young and old members of the community need to get vaccinated and that he is making ample vaccine quantities available in an effort to reach that goal of herd immunity. His hope is that 70% of the county will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by summer, he said during the interview.
Demings said he received the Moderna vaccine and had little or no side effects with the first dose and only experienced some sluggishness from the second.
He said his entire family, including his 98-year-old father, has been vaccinated.
According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health, more than 560,000 people in Orange County have received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that’s less than half of the 1.39 million who call Orange County home. Statewide, more than 9.1 million people are at least partially vaccinated against the virus. Florida is home to more than 21 million, according to the Census Bureau.
A doctor recently told News 6 it’s unlikely we will reach herd immunity within the next few months.
“We’re not gonna see a herd immunity before winter. We can see it sometime next year, early next year, said Dr. Ali Mokdad, with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
He believes neither the U.S, Florida, nor Central Florida will reach herd immunity this year if the vaccination pace continues as is.
Mokdad points to a survey where only 60-69% of Floridians said they are open to getting the vaccine. If that’s true, the state is already below the threshold.
Also, currently, there is no approved vaccine for children and teens. Until there is, Mokdad believes Florida will not hit herd immunity.
Pfizer has already applied for Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID vaccine for teens age 12-15. The company plans to submit its vaccine for children ages 2-11 for the same approval by September.