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Free flu vaccinations at ‘pop-ups’

Hepatitis A shots also free with Covid testing

By Staff | Sep 17, 2020

Lee County residents can now receive vaccines for the flu and Hepatitis A while getting tested for Covid-19.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is offering the free vaccines at pop-up Covid-19 testing sites as of Thursday. DOH-Lee, in conjunction with the county, organized these free, walk-up sites that have been available to residents at various locations throughout the county all month long.

The flu vaccine is available to anyone age 6 months and older; the Hepatitis A vaccine is available to those 18 and older.

According to DOH-Lee, “The best time to receive a flu vaccine is before flu viruses begin spreading in the community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu so plan to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

“According to CDC, getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Last year’s vaccine may not protect against the current year’s strain. Even if the vaccine does not fully protect against the flu, the vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV), said DOH-Lee. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter–even in microscopic amounts–from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces (stool) of an infected person.

At these pop-up sites, DOH staff will have 300 COVID-19 tests available at each site for anyone 4 years of age or older.

Testing is scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 9 a.m. and will continue, weather permitting, until 12:30p.m. Children under 4 will be referred for testing to DOH-Lee. There is no fee for the test, and no appointment or doctor’s order is necessary. Parking is limited at some sites. These are not drive-thru sites; attendees are asked to walk up to the testing area.

Remaining test dates and sites include:

* Friday, Sept. 18: Cape Coral Sports Complex, 1410 Sports Blvd., Cape Coral

* Tuesday, Sept. 22: Karl Drews Park, 18412 Lee Rd., Fort Myers

* Thursday Sept. 24: Veteran’s Park, 55 Homestead Rd. S., Lehigh Acres

* Tuesday, Sept. 29: Kurt Donaldson Park, 180 Hunter Blvd., Cape Coral

By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, there are 674,456 total cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Florida, an increase of 3,309 since FDOH’s last update Wednesday morning.

More than 80,700 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Of those reported tests, 4.46 percent tested positive. Percent positivity rates in new cases has been under 10% over the last 36 days has been 6% or less the last 14.

The state saw its highest daily percentage of positive patients July 8, when 18.50 percent of tests reported were positive among 51,686 tests.

The death toll increased by 147 (six occurring Wednesday) from the last update, including 4 in Lee.

According to FDOH’s Thursday report, “Today, data reported to the Agency for Health Care Administration shows that the number of COVID-19 positive patients that are currently hospitalized is down more than 70 percent since July.”

A total of 5,018,057 individuals have been tested: 4,336,517 have tested negative, 7,084 tests were inconclusive and 3,817 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 42,047 Florida residents have been hospitalized at some point during their illness according to the state. There have been 13,247 deaths.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, there were 2,383 hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.

The age groups of Florida residents that have yielded the most positive test results are 25-34 years old (19%), followed by 35-44 (16%), 45-54 (16%) and 15-24 (16%).

The highest hospitalization rate is found in patients 65-74 (20%), 75-84 (18%) and 55-64 (18%) years old.

In Lee County, 19,733 (+116) individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Thursday, the highest daily increase in two weeks; 8,038 in Fort Myers (+57), 4,549 in Cape Coral (+13), 3,851 in Lehigh Acres (+23), 1,248 in Bonita Springs (+4), 736 in North Fort Myers (+3), 470 in Estero (+5), 116 in Alva (+1), 85 on Fort Myers Beach (+0), 48 in Bokeelia (+0), 48 in Sanibel (+0), 30 in Saint James City (+0), 21 on Matlacha (+0), 17 in Tice (+0), seven at Florida Gulf Coast University (+0), six in South Fort Myers (+0), five in Boca Grande (+0), five in Miromar Lakes (+0), four in Buckingham (+0), three on Captiva (+0), three in San Carlos Park (+0), two in Pineland (+0), one in Bonita Beach (+0) one at Babcock Ranch (+0) and one in Immokalee (+0); 129 cases were not identified by community.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged from infants to a 103-year-old. Lee County saw its first two cases on March 7, when a man and a woman, each 77, tested positive. They had traveled to the Dominican Republic.

There have been 457 (+4) deaths in Lee County; 243 (+1) of those deaths were reported in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lee Health had 57 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including nine new admissions and five discharges since Wednesday.

A total of 2,644 patients who had tested positive have been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Lee Health had a 10.3% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests processed through Lee Health Labs. This represents Lee Health results only, not Lee County as a whole. Hospital positivity rates tend to be higher as the tests are performed on patients seeking treatment for a health issue, not the general public that includes asymptomatic individuals.

Census as of Thursday afternoon was at 85 (+1)% of staffed operational bed capacity, with 4.8 (+.4)% of those being COVID-19 patients. Staffed operational capacity reflects the number of beds for which the hospital has adequate staffing, not the total number of beds within Lee Health hospitals. Overall bed capacity fluctuates hour to hour as the system discharges patients throughout the day who are ready to go home.

As of Thursday, 71(+2)% of ventilators and 28 (+10)% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Thursday, there were nine (+1) COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 15 (-2) in the intensive care unit.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral disease. For most individuals, symptoms are mild. For a minority, the disease becomes a type of viral pneumonia with severe complications. Especially at risk are those who are older, those with underlying health conditions and the immune-compromised.

Officials strongly urge all members of the public who are at risk to remain at home so as to limit exposure. All others are urged to observe social distancing and to wear a mask for all public interactions.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit the live DOH Dashboard.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov .

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj