Why are Covid-19 cases rising when the vaccine is available to almost anyone?
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – At a time when many states and counties are starting to lift mask mandates and life feels as though it’s slowly returning to normal… the nation is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
With the Hamilton County active case count less than 1,000, health officials say we are in no way in as bad a shape as we were in November and December – but hospitalizations are increasing.
“We have definitely more people in our intensive care unit than we did for about a month up until the last week. That’s a little surprising even with the increased numbers because we expect the more vulnerable people to be most vaccinated by now or a large number of them,” says Dr. Mark Anderson, Infectious Disease at CHI Memorial.
But if vaccines are now available to anyone over the age of 16, why are the numbers rising?
“The vaccine has been very available and yet only 14 percent of people have been actually vaccinated. So there has to be some element of hesitancy contributing to that. People probably feel that this disease is not that prevalent so even if they were willing to take a vaccine they may say ‘hey I’m not going to get it or it’s unlikely I’ll get it so I won’t take the vaccine’ but that’s the wrong choice,” says Dr. Jigme Sethi, Pulmonologist at Erlanger.
Local physicians are pleading to the community to remain vigilant with social distancing. They say it is still our best defense against defeating the virus and its variants right now.
“As the general public we have to be very cautious about returning to life as it used to be. We have to keep up with the masks & social distancing, regardless of what mandate comes from the politicians,” says Dr. Sethi.
“Using the masks are clearly very effective at preventing transmission. The less transmission we have, the fewer variants we’re going to have from the virus. It’s going to be easier to control it both with masks and the vaccine,” says Dr. Anderson.
Health officials are continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated. They believe it is our “best shot” to having a COVID and mask free future.