Residents with questions about COVID-19 vaccines will have a chance to seek answers from a physician at a health fair this Saturday.

Southeast Georgia Health System is including an “Ask a Doctor” booth at the Community Health & Wellness Fair, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brunswick High School.

The booth will be set up next to the COVID-19 vaccine booth, where anyone age 12 and older can receive a free Pfizer vaccine, said Laura Young, the health system’s public information officer. For everyone’s benefit, face masks and social distancing will be required.

Health officials hope increased awareness about the virus and the vaccine will clear up myths and confusion and encourage more youth and adults to roll up their sleeves and be vaccinated.

They have good reason to be hopeful. Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise nationwide, statewide and regionwide, including in Glynn and Camden counties.

On Tuesday, the health system reported 28 confirmed patients at its hospitals in Brunswick and St. Marys, 11 of whom were in the critical care unit. Seventeen of the COVID-19 patients were in the Brunswick hospital.

“The vast majority of current hospitalizations are among patients that have not been fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Alan Brown, chief medical officer at Southeast Georgia Health System.

“As we see cases of COVID-19 continue to rise regionally, I implore everyone to do all they can to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus in our community. I recognize the vaccine is a personal decision, but we still need more people vaccinated if we are to beat this pandemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control says a 70 percent vaccination rate is needed to provide the nation herd immunity.

Michael Scherneck, president and CEO of the health system, reiterated that Glynn and Camden counties have a long way to go to reach that mark.

“The vaccines have, in fact, been proven to be safe and effective by the FDA,” Scherneck said. “Yet a staggering 72 percent of Camden County and 61 percent of Glynn County remain unvaccinated. And now, similar to the rest of the nation, we are experiencing another surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, many of whom are much younger than we saw last year.

“We are very concerned about the increase of positive COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalized patients. The Delta variant is far more contagious than the original virus. Even if you believe you are healthy enough to withstand the illness, get the vaccine to protect your loved ones and others, especially those who are unable to get the vaccine due to age or health complications. The time to ‘wait and see’ is over.”

To date, there have been 43,619 positive cases in the eight-county Coastal Health District, which includes Glynn, Camden and McIntosh counties. The death rate in the district remains at 1.9 percent, or 832 deaths. That includes 159 in Glynn, 35 in Camden and 14 in McIntosh.

Other counties in the Coastal Health District and the number of COVID-19 related deaths reported in each are Chatham, 440; Bryan, 38; Effingham, 71; Liberty, 63; and Long, 12.

Throughout the pandemic, Georgia’s 159 counties have reported a total of 913,775 COVID-19 cases, 18,632 of whom did not survive the virus.

The health fair is a free event. For more information about the health fair, visit sghs.org or call 1-855-ASK-SGHS (855-275-7447).

In addition to the health fair, vaccinations will be available at the health system’s hospital in St. Marys from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday in Conference Room A and at the hospital in Brunswick in Room 3 of the Pinson Conference Center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Schedule a vaccine appointment online at sghs.org/covid19-vaccine.

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