Health officials in Coastal Georgia are urging teenagers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Everyone from age 12 on up is eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine, the only one available to teens, is given in two doses six weeks apart.
The vaccine is free.
“The number of teens getting vaccinated is very low and we would like to see it increase,” said Sally Silbermann, public information officer for the Coastal Health District.
The eight-county district includes Glynn, Camden and McIntosh counties.
Silbermann said teens might be avoiding vaccination clinics because of a myth that the vaccine may affect fertility.
“There is no evidence to support that (myth),” Silbermann said.
In the 12 to 15 age bracket, 395 had received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine as of Monday in Glynn County, 180 in Camden County and 38 in McIntosh County.
Figures for the same age bracket in Brantley and Wayne counties, both of which are in the Southeast Health District, also were low. Brantley reported 14 and Wayne 43.
Dr. Lawton Davis, director of the Coastal Health District, “thinks parents may not feel getting their teens vaccinated is necessary because rates of serious disease and death are lower in younger people than adults,” Silbermann said.
“But children and teens are still at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 and potentially suffering long-term effects if they get it,” Silbermann stressed.
Dr. Davis would like to see the number of vaccinated Coastal Georgians rise for every age group.
“We need to get our vaccination numbers a lot higher if we truly want to reach community or herd immunity,” Davis said. “We’re moving in the right direction but still have a long way to go.
“Variants continue to emerge and as much as we want to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, we have to stay vigilant. One only needs to look at some other countries facing devastating outbreaks to see that new surges can and likely will emerge.”
As of Monday, statistics available through the Coastal Health District show a total of 8,274 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 159 virus-related deaths in Glynn County; 4,016 cases and 32 deaths in Camden County; and 865 cases and 14 deaths in McIntosh County.
As of Tuesday, 34% of the population in Glynn County was fully vaccinated. The percentages in Camden and McIntosh were 23% and 28% respectively.
“I can’t say it enough: Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already,” Davis said. “Getting vaccinated is our best chance to end this thing.”
Southeast Georgia Health System reminds high school graduates that many colleges and universities said they will require students to get the vaccine. That includes returning students.
The health system also reminds teens that they’re helping to protect loved ones and the community when vaccinated.
Residents can contact their county health department for vaccination appointments or schedule one at Southeast Georgia Health System’s hospital in Brunswick or St. Marys online at sghs.org/covid19-vaccine.
Mobile vaccination units also are making rounds. Residents can pre-register for an appointment. Walk-ups also are welcome.
For a list of upcoming events for Brunswick and beyond, visit: brunswickvax.coreresponse.org
Health officials remind parents that children younger than 12 are not eligible for the vaccine and at risk of exposure. Children older than 2 should wear masks when in public.