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Preparing for a Healthy 2021-2022 Season

COVID19 positive test

COVID-19 Delta cases continue to rise across the country, in Florida, and right here on our own Island. Throughout the pandemic, the Boca Grande Health Clinic has taken conservative measures to protect its patients and staff as well as the Island’s businesses and visitors, maintaining the precautions spelled out in the Boca Grande Pledge.

The Clinic is working hand-in-hand with business and community leaders to get ready for the fall/winter season. “With an eye toward the return of residents in October, it’s important that we all work together to ensure the health and safety of the Island,” said Mark Driscoll, Boca Grande Health Clinic chief executive officer.

Despite government efforts to increase vaccination rates, the pandemic carries on and will continue to present new and serious health challenges.

New coronavirus variants are emerging and becoming even more contagious, spreading quickly even by those who have been vaccinated and are asymptomatic. “We must accept that COVID-19 is here to stay and remain hyper alert and adapt as data and information becomes available,” said Driscoll.

The Clinic and Island business and community leaders will again meet regularly to discuss the latest information and recommendations and to determine what actions may be necessary. The Clinic plans another robust series of healthcare education events and webinars open to the public. The first will be in October and will be a welcome back to the Island event covering the primary things everyone should know about COVID-19 when returning to the Island.

Vaccination is the path forward

The delta variant is so infectious it can even use vaccinated people to spread. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.

Just last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. More than 200 million Pfizer doses already have been administered in the U.S. since emergency use began in December. Moderna’s vaccine is expected to receive full approval in the coming weeks.

It is hoped that these approvals will improve public confidence in the shots and encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated. The Clinic vaccinated more than 3,100 patients and members of the Island community between January and May. Florida has many sites that are providing COVID-19 vaccines, which remain free to eligible residents, and can be found at Florida’s vaccine locator.

Third COVID-19 vaccine shot or booster?

According to the CDC, people who have compromised immune systems may benefit from an additional dose of the vaccine to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19. Although the CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week a plan to begin offering booster shots this fall. However, this is subject to authorization by the FDA and recommendation by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is conducting a thorough review of the evidence.

No information about on-island booster shots is available at this time. When and if it becomes clear they are beneficial and recommended by the CDC and its immunization committee, the Clinic will determine if and how booster shots can be made available. 

Help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Every infection counts as a chance for new variants to emerge and we all need to continue to do our part to help prevent the spread.

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about two arm lengths) from others who don’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces daily. If someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Monitor your health daily.

Readers can follow the Clinic’s COVID-19 Resource Center for up-to-date information as the situation evolves and plans are firmed up for the upcoming season.

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