SAN ANGELO, Texas — June 4 - National Vaccine Day of Action - marks the kick-off for the National Month of Action on COVID-19 vaccine education and awareness.
According to Dr. James Vretis, Tom Green County local health authority, the demand for COVID-19 vaccines continues to decrease over the last couple of months.
"They're starting to look poor. I mean, we've had this huge drop-off of people getting vaccinated, and you know, I think a large part of it is because our numbers of people getting COVID are down, so people think this is over. So I don't need to worry about it," Vretis said.
Despite the drop in COVID-19 numbers, Vretis said health officials are still admitting people to the hospitals who are sick with COVID-19.
"We're still seeing people that had COVID that have lung disease. A lot of people come with medical problems like not functioning the same way they used to. We have some people that have severe heart problems now. So, you know, it's just imperative for people to get this vaccine," he said.
"Yes, the vaccine appears to be working great. I mean, all of them appear to be working great. But, of course, there are some side effects with very select population groups with a couple of vaccines. But all in all, the vaccines are great. That's why the numbers have gone down around the country so tremendously," Vretis said when asked if the COVID-19 vaccine is working at this time.
A few months ago, health officials saw multiple people die per day throughout Tom Green County. There were thousands dying across the nation. The main question is why people are hesitant despite the COVID-19 vaccine having positive effects.
"We're getting towards total immunity, but we're not there yet... So, I think it is a combination of both numbers being down. So, they think the odds of them getting the disease are down, and also they have seen the side effects....people just need to get the vaccine," Vretis said.
Marginalized communities tend to doubt because of the history they have with medical professionals.
"It's sad when you look at the marginalized communities, including the Black and Hispanic communities. People just don't trust us. But, you know, they're the ones who seem to be bearing the brunt of disease as well," Vretis said.
As of May 28, 2021, 40,660 people in Tom Green County have received one dose of the vaccine. 35,710 have been fully vaccinated, according to the City of San Angelo and Tom Green County Health Department. In the Big Country, 40.19 percent have been vaccinated with at least one dose for people ages 12 and up. 34.50 percent of the same population has been fully vaccinated, according to Texas Health and Human Services.
To schedule a vaccine in Tom Green County, click the link.
For those in Taylor County, click the link to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination.