SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Citing data which found the vast majority of COVID- 19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths since March 1 have occurred in unvaccinated people, San Diego County officials pleaded with those San Diegans who haven't yet received a jab to do so as quickly as possible.
The county's data found that since the beginning of March, 95% of all cases, 98% of all hospitalizations and 96% of deaths involved people who had not yet been fully inoculated from the virus.
Dr. Hans Crumpler, a physician at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, in La Mesa, urged those skeptical of the shots to get more information from medical experts.
"Come to your provider if you have any doubts or questions, we are there to educate you," he said. "Get the vaccine as readily as you can. It's going to give you side effects, but they are far preferable to getting the virus."
Crumpler contracted COVID-19 and said the contant body aches and intermittent chills and fever were "beyond description." He also said vaccination side effects were rare -- most often soreness or a rash -- and paled in comparison to the impact of COVID-19.
The message had a note of urgency to it, as the Delta variant of COVID- 19 appears to be the next major strain to make its way through unvaccinated populations. Dr. Eric McDonald, San Diego County's Chief Medical Officer, said one shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were not as effective against the Delta variant as they were against previous strains. He urged the more than 140,000 San Diegans who have not received a second dose to get it done.
"Ideally you want to get it on time, but if it has been one month, two months, four months, it will still be more effective," he said. "The first shot isn't enough for the Delta variant."
The recommended spacing of doses is three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine. Completing the full two-dose series of the vaccine is recommended regardless of how long ago a person received their first shot.
"A single dose of those vaccines is only 33% effective against the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19, which has become the most prevalent strain of the virus in the United States and is likely to become more prevalent locally," Denise Foster, the county's chief nursing officer and COVID-19 clinical director, said. "San Diegans who are overdue for their second shot should take action as soon as possible to lower their risk of getting or spreading the virus."
McDonald and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher both commented that due to UC San Diego Health, Scripps and other large medical research institutions, San Diego was uniquely situated to sequence positive COVID-19 tests to determine if they are the Delta variant.
Fletcher said 49 of the 54 reported Delta cases were in unvaccinated people.
Everyone 12 years and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. Go to coronavirus-SD.com/vaccine for a full list of hours and locations of vaccine sites in the county.
"The data shows what we've known all along. The COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and deaths," said Dr. Seema Shah, medical director of HHSA's epidemiology and immunization services branch.
Since Jan. 1, a total of 1,219 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the region but only three were county residents who had been fully vaccinated.
The county's cumulative cases increased by 200 to 283,576 as of Thursday, while one death was reported, increasing that total to 3,783.
San Diego County's case rate is 2.5 cases per 100,000 residents as of this week's data.