by Robin Kemp

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners Office of Communications is hosting a Vaccinate Clayton Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, March 24 at 2 p.m.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines being shared throughout the county, “said Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner. “Hosting this virtual town hall meeting will allow us to address those concerns and hopefully encourage more residents to get vaccinated.”

Participants will hear from public health officials and county leaders, who will answer your questions about COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.

As of March 13, Clayton County has 57,121 cases of COVID-19, and the virus has killed at least 866 Clayton County residents since the pandemic began just over two years ago.

To get an idea of the impact of COVID-19 on Clayton County, we checked the latest five-year average for all causes of death in Clayton County. That covers the years 2014-2018. During that time, the county’s average death rate was 1,675 people per year. That means, roughly speaking, that COVID-19 has been responsible for about a 25% estimated increase in deaths in Clayton County in the past two years.

Here are the latest vaccination rates for Clayton County as of March 13:

  • 51% of Clayton County residents have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 46% of Clayton County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • 37% of Clayton County residents have had a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

About one of every five people infected with COVID-19 in Clayton County has died. Last week, 11 unvaccinated people died in Clayton County.

As a new variant looms, it’s worth noting that two fully vaccinated people and one who also had had the booster shot also died of COVID-19 last week. Why? Some possible reasons include:

  • other medical conditions that make people less able to fight off the virus
  • a new strain of the virus for which no vaccine exists yet
  • their vaccination had not yet become fully effective (it takes about 2 weeks)
  • their vaccine no longer was strong enough to fight the virus (if they got one dose a long time ago)

Does that mean the vaccine doesn’t work? No.

It means that the vaccine greatly increases your chance of survival should you become infected. Here’s how you can know that:

Last week, there were 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clayton County. Of those, 48 (72.7%) were unvaccinated. Four of those unvaccinated people were hospitalized. However, only 13 people who had been vaccinated caught COVID-19 last week, and only two of those people were hospitalized.

The Clayton Crescent reports hospitalization and death figures from the Clayton County Health District and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Ever since that data has been released, the overwhelming number of people who died of COVID-19–nearly all–have been unvaccinated.

While the vaccine is not 100% guaranteed to keep people from getting sick with COVID-19, it does offer better than 90% protection against such an infection. This data comes from rigorous scientific trials that are required before the government gives a drug company permission to make and sell vaccines or other medicines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who two doses and who had not had the virus before.
  • Moderna was 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who two doses and who had not had the virus before.
  • Johnson & Johnson was 66.3% effective, which is why the CDC recommends people who had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster. However, if someone is allergic to the other vaccines or doesn’t have access to them, the CDC says it’s better to get some protection from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine than none at all.

What a vaccine does is place a little bit of the dead COVID-19 virus into your arm. The virus pieces are mixed with fats, sugars, and salts to help your cells absorb them. Your immune system then attacks it, creating antibodies that will fight the live COVID-19 virus if you catch it later. It takes your body about two weeks to build up enough antibodies to fight off COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain:

  • aborted fetal cells
  • mercury
  • thimerosal
  • metals
  • egg, gluten, or nut products
  • antibiotics or other medications
  • latex
  • microchips

Ever since the county began mass vaccinations, and particularly since Clayton County Public Schools began offering vaccinations, the number of cases has dropped off dramatically:

However, Clayton County is not out of the woods yet. A combination of relaxed masking in public indoor spaces, “COVID fatigue,” the emerging new variant, and upcoming spring break holidays could cause another spike in cases–like the three on the graph above, which followed back-to-school and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Bottom line: The more people who are vaccinated in Clayton County, the fewer places COVID-19 can find a  home here.

Submit your questions in advance: https://tinyurl.com/vaccinateclaytonquestions 

To register for the event, access: https://tinyurl.com/vaccinateclaytontownhall

In case you miss the meeting, Clayton County Access Television will post a copy to its YouTube page, and all questions and answers during the session will be posted online at vaccinateclaytonclaytoncountyga.gov.

You can register for a free COVID-19 vaccination or COVID-19 test at the Clayton County Health District.

Fact-check myths about COVID-19 vaccination at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html

Learn how researchers use the scientific method to prove whether or not a vaccine works at Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/intro-to-biology/science-of-biology/a/the-science-of-biology

 

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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