TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Get your vaccination rates up. That was the U.S. surgeon general's message to Floridians as a more transmissible COVID-19 variant spreads in the U.S.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told us recently Florida has done well with seniors but now needs younger populations to step up. Doing so, he said, may prevent the Delta variant from gaining a foothold.
"It still makes up only about 6% of cases in the United States, but that number has increased fairly significantly over the last few weeks and likely will increase further," Murthy said. "It's so important in Florida that we make sure we get our vaccination rates up as soon as possible."
The Delta COVID mutation is about 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than current versions in America, like the Alpha variant, also known as B.1.1.7.
Both India and the U.K. are struggling with the Delta mutation amongst unvaccinated populations. Murthy warns the U.S. could be next.
"There's also some evidence to suggest that the Delta variant may be more dangerous or consequential to our health," he said. "Here is what we need to understand, if you are unvaccinated out there and you're hearing this, it means is you have one more reason to get vaccinated as soon as possible."
About 55% of Floridians have had at least one shot, according to the latest state data. Per capita, Florida sits in the middle of the pack, behind bigger states like California and New York.
Normality, the surgeon general said, will hinge on continued progress.
"We've got to make sure that, this time, when cases come down, they stay down," Murthy said. "So that we can maintain our kids in school, our folks at work, and our way of life."
The president has pushed the nation to reach 70% vaccination for adults by July Fourth. The most recent CDC data showed 64% of those 18 and older over had at least one shot.