As cases of the COVID-19 delta variant increase in California, San Diego County leaders and doctors gathered on Friday to urge the public to get their vaccines.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher began Friday's press conference by updating the public with optimistic figures: 80% of eligible San Diegans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 68% of the local region were fully vaccinated. Despite these numbers, he warned that those who have not received the vaccine at all are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
“We are still seeing an increase in COVID cases," Fletcher said. "With those cases from March 1 until today, 95% of those COVID cases are in the unvaccinated. Ninety-eigh percent of the COVID hospitalizations from March 1 until today are in the unvaccinated and 96% of the deaths from March 1 until today are in the unvaccinated.”
Vaccination rates are also looking positive in the South Bay, Supervisor Nora Vargas said.
Just a little over 85% of eligible residents in the South Bay have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Nora. She added that from the Latino population in that region, 84% of residents have gotten their first dose.
The news conference comes as cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant continue to be recorded throughout the state. The California Department of Public Health said it is now the most common strain of the virus in California.
As of Friday, there have been 54 cases of the COVID-19 delta variant in San Diego County, according to Fletcher. He added that he believes it will be the dominant variant in the county in August.
“The simple fact is in order to slow the spread of COVID, we need people to get the vaccine," Fletcher said. "So we’re here to urge San Diegans, please – it is safe, it is effective, it is free.”
Sharp HealthCare Dr. Hans Crumpler, who had COVID-19, himself, echoed the county leaders' sentiments and encouraged the public to get vaccinated and to speak to their doctors about their concerns. He also reassured San Diegans that side effects from the vaccine are overall minimal.
“It is survivable," Dr. Crumpler said. "It is something that’s going to give you side effects. When I had my vaccine, I felt sore in my arm for a couple of days but in comparison to having COVID, I’d much rather that. The only times I have seen patients with any degree of side effects that have been concerning has been a rash.”
The news conference comes nearly a month after California reopened its businesses back to full capacity and scaled down its social distancing guidelines and mask mandates.