San Diego County's Vaccination Rate Helps to Keep Infection Rate Lower

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Public health leaders have been under pressure to get more people vaccinated in order to lower the COVID-19 case rate.

NBC 7 took a closer look at the vaccination rate in San Diego County and compared it with other parts of the nation where cases are higher.

“If enough people get vaccinated, it’s going to slow down the rate of transmission,” said Mar Pines, who was visiting San Diego from Santa Maria, California.

Pines said she was relieved to hear that more than 70% of San Diegans have been fully vaccinated. While cases are climbing nationwide, San Diego County’s positivity rate, which is averaged over a seven-day period, is less than other counties. New numbers, released Tuesday evening, show that San Diego's positivity rate at 8.8%.

“I know people that live in other places where they’re not as vaccinated, where the vaccination rate isn’t as high, and it does concern me,” said Gary Johnson, a San Diego County local.

Other places across the U.S. are reporting fewer people vaccinated and greater positivity rates. According to data from Texas' Dallas County, about 59% of eligible people are vaccinated. The positivity rate there is 19%. In Miami-Dade County, in Florida, 61% of eligible residents are vaccinated. The positivity rate there is 13.6%.

“That does impact us here in San Diego, here in the U.S.," said Professor Arietta Fleming-Davies, who is an infectious disease expert with the University of San Diego. "It’s giving the virus more opportunities for new variants to arise."

Fleming-Davies said that, while a vaccination rate of 70% of eligible people vaccinated is good, it’s likely not enough to stop the spread.

“It’s really tricky to know what that threshold of safety -- or, sometimes, we talk about herd immunity -- is because it changes when the variants change,” said Fleming-Davies, which is why she said she is encouraging more people to get vaccinated and wear masks when indoors. "So you might have heard the delta variant is twice as infectious as previous, so that raises our threshold of what percent of people need to be vaccinated."

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