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Tallahassee-Leon Coronavirus Task Force sets sights on youth, millennial vaccinations

Posted at 9:13 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 09:13:56-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Health and community leaders continue to fight against the Delta Variant surge. As of Tuesday, August 17, Capital Regional Medical Center has 112 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare has 87.

The medical community and coronavirus task force members are now pushing vaccines, whether it's through more availability, incentives, or having those tough conversations hoping to educate people to get the shot.

Bond Community Health CEO Dr. Temple Robinson says right now, time is of the essence.

"We really need to hurry. If we don't hurry and get more people vaccinated, we will be dealing with the next strain of COVID," she said.

The COVID-19 delta variant spike in Leon County hitting new highs with case rates increasing by 30% in one week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reports the county's positivity rate at 15.8 percent.

"We've had staff to give vaccinations at wakes and funerals. It is to the point now this is almost medieval what is happening," said Dr. Robinson.

She says the only answer is vaccinations.

"The uncertainty you may have about the long-term effects of the vaccine have far been outweighed by the risks that you have now of contracting a very, very bad strain of COVID," she warns.

The need for more shots in arms now causing the Tallahassee-Leon County Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force to broaden its scope.

Taskforce leader Dr. Elaine Bryant says the team will launch a new campaign aimed at educating younger people about vaccines next week.

"We're hoping through this initiative, not only will we reach the youth, because obviously, they can't actually take a vaccine, but also with their parents who have to authorize that vaccine," said Bryant.

She says the new partnership with Leon County will mean more visibility on social media sites, with sponsored posts and more shared posts from the county's social media platforms.

That also means a stronger presence in the community, especially around younger crowds.

"How we approach communication with millennials, youth, or seniors is very different. Obviously, with a multi-generational outreach, you have to do things very differently," said Bryant.

The Leon County Health Department also doing things differently. Vaccination clinic hours have been extended to Tuesdays and Fridays. The department will give a $10 grocery voucher to people who get shots. The health department is also putting more mobile vaccine clinics into smaller communities.

All efforts that local health leaders hope will go a long way in stopping the spread.

"If the majority of us can convince one person to get vaccinated we will be so much closer to a healthier community," said Dr. Robinson.

You don't need an appointment to get a vaccine at the health department. Vaccines are offered at the Old Bainbridge Road location. It's available every Friday from 3:00 until 6:00 and Tuesday's from 4:00 until 7:00.