ORLANDO, Fla. – As more cases of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 continue to be identified, the U.S. has expanded booster shot eligibility of the Pfizer vaccine.
Federal health officials on Thursday said 16- and 17-year-olds should get a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine once they’re six months past their last shot. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the booster shot for those 16-17 years old and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval soon after.
“Boosters are important, considering that protection against infection wanes over time, and we’re facing a variant that has the potential to require more immunity to be protected,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC.
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Prior to the expansion of booster shots, Pfizer announced this week a booster shot of its vaccine may offer extra protection against the omicron variant, saying lab tests showed antibody levels in people who received an extra dose increased by 25-fold.
The state health department confirmed Tuesday the first case of omicron in Florida. The Florida Department of Health said the person found with the variant was a patient at a Tampa hospital who recently returned from international travel.
In Florida, the state health department said it has seen an increase in booster shots. Public Information Officer Kent Donahue said each and every day for the past two weeks third doses have been the majority of the vaccination doses they provided. He said on Monday they had more than 2,400 third doses in Orange County. This past Friday, the county saw over 4,400 third doses.
The World Health Organization said this week the omicron variant may be spreading faster than the delta variant but may bring a “less severe coronavirus disease,” according to the Associated Press. However, the organization said it is too early to know for certain. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s chief of emergencies, said data about the variant so far is “pointing to a virus that’s efficiently transmitting and probably more efficiently transmitting than even the delta variant.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week the state would not change its policies due to the omicron variant.
“I have no problem if somebody is worried, if they’re scared of omicron, and they want to lock down or they want to isolate. That is absolutely their decision in a free society, but you don’t impose ‘Fauci-ism’ on the whole country or on the whole state. It’s wrong,” said DeSantis, taking a dig at Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, over Fauci’s stance on how to fight COVID-19.
While more is being learned about the new variant, the number of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 reached a new milestone Wednesday, hitting 200 million vaccinations nationwide. According to the Associated Press, new cases in the U.S. climbed from an average of nearly 95,000 a day on Nov. 22 to almost 119,000 a day this week, and hospitalizations are up 25% from a month ago.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Dec. 10:
The Florida Department of Health reported 13,530 new cases on Friday that occurred between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,710,507 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 1,933 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.
Florida reported 36 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 62,026 actually shows there have been 325 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 1,077 adult and 16 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 2.6% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 14,540,602 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 70% of the state.
During the past week, 104,995 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Dec. 3 - Dec. 9, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Dec. 9||New cases since Dec. 3||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 5+ population vaccinated|