Vaccinations slightly increasing in CSRA as Delta variant spreads

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Dozens of cars are lining up at Augusta University Health’s COVID-19 testing site again. Testing slowed in June but ramped up in mid-July. Britney Wilkinson says her team went from testing 60 people a day to 160.

“In the past week, we’ve increased to our max capacity,” Wilkinson says. “It has been a mix of people and mix of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.”

While more people sign up for testing, they are also signing up to be vaccinated. As of Tuesday, 32 percent of eligible residents were fully vaccinated in Richmond County, while 37 were fully vaccinated in Columbia County.

“That’s up about two percentage points in both counties since July 1,” Dr. Joshua Wyche, AU Health’s Assistant Vice President of Strategic Planning and Pharmacy Services, says. “Prior to that, it had taken about six to eight weeks to see an increase of that magnitude.”

Wyche says the community is heading in the right direction “but not heading there fast enough as we are seeing in the rise of cases.”

“97+ percent of these individuals who are going to the hospital or testing positive are unvaccinated individuals. 

“That’s very concerning because what we know is that vaccinations are ultimately leading to a 25-fold decrease in hospitalizations or deaths if you’re vaccinated,” he adds. “If you’re unvaccinated, your risk goes up 25 more times in severe disease or death.”

Though vaccinations are picking up speed, Wyche says overall demand remains low. He says the main reason people are not getting vaccinated is because of its mild side effects. He hopes community outreach and partnerships with faith leaders will change some minds.

“We have to continue to have those open discussions to help people overcome those hesitancies. We have to help them get the facts so we can decrease the number of 60 percent that are unvaccinated to a much lower number to protect all of us.”

Vaccination clinics this week

University Hospital clinic:

  • Wednesday, August 4
  • 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • At University Hospital
  • Click here

University Hospital clinic:

  • Thursday, August 5
  • 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • At University Hospital
  • Click here

Augusta University Health clinic:

  • Thursday, August 5
  • 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • At Washington Square
  • Click here

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