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Variants and vaccine availability influencing number of people getting vaccinated

Posted at 7:11 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 20:11:13-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A year ago, John Hicks was looking for answers when it came to getting vaccinated, getting no answers from officials and the V.A.

“When are we going to be on a list? Can they text us?” Army veteran John Hicks asked us last year.

He was worried that with his medical conditions, he would catch COVID-19 and get gravely ill or die.

He said just days after we did the story with him earlier this year, officials contacted him about getting the vaccine. Now he’s fully vaccinated with a booster and is not afraid to go out in public, something he didn’t do very often when the COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t available to him.

“I was relieved. I wasn’t afraid anymore of catching something,” Hicks said.

He’s encouraging people to do the same, saying he didn’t get sick with COVID-19 all year and attributes that to getting the vaccine.

Public Health Director of the Nueces County-Corpus Christi Public Health District Annette Rodriguez, said certain factors like the vaccine becoming more available as the year went on influenced people getting vaccinated.

The public health district reported that through their vaccines sites, about 29,000 doses got administered in February. In March that number shot all the way up to around 43,000.

Rodriguez attributes that to the eligibility requirements to get vaccinated becoming more relaxed. She said as more age groups became eligible, the numbers climbed even higher.

“When children 12 and older were allowed to get vaccinated, that brought us a rush and when the younger children 5 to 11 were approved for vaccinations, that also increased our numbers,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also said the COVID-19 variants have been influencing people to get vaccinated. In July, the public health district reported that only about 6,000 doses were administered. That number shot up to 14,000 people in August, around the time the Delta variant was on the rise.

Currently, Rodriguez said about 54 percent of the County is vaccinated, around 191,000 people. Lately, she said, vaccinations have been slowing down. Under 14,000 people got vaccinated in November and December.

“You’re going to see of course a slowing trend because the people that are now getting vaccinated are the ones that have been more hesitant, that aren’t sure that they need it or the population that’s more of the healthy group that thinks ‘we’re healthy we’ll be fine’,” she said.

However, some people like Melinda De Los Santos, a physical therapist at Christus Spohn, said she’s not taking the vaccine because of religious reasons. She also said she believes alternative medication like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine would help her if she ever did get COVID-19. She said getting the vaccine should be a personal choice, not something the government mandates.

“Just like buying a car, you go and look at the car facts, you look at all these things. You’ve got to do some research and all I do is encourage, because as a medical professional, we are to do no harm,” De Los Santos said.