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With cases on the rise, vaccinations critical to slowing spread of COVID-19

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise again throughout Florida, faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated if they have not already done so. While the Delta variant appears to be more contagious — affecting between two to three times the number of those who come into contact with someone who is infected than previous variants — data indicate that getting fully vaccinated offers the best protection against the virus.

“Benefits to receiving the vaccine include preventing serious illness and hospitalization, reducing the chance of a new variant developing and, if fully vaccinated, avoiding being withheld from work or school if exposed to a case,” said Jerne Shapiro, M.P.H., lead epidemiologist for UF Health Screen, Test & Protect.

Reinfections are possible

Importantly, healthcare providers are finding that those who have previously contracted COVID-19 may become reinfected, especially after the 90-day mark. This means that if you have already had the virus, it is recommended that you still get vaccinated to protect yourself.

“People who have had Covid will make antibodies against all parts of the virus, which sounds great, but actually only a small fraction of those antibodies can actually prevent another infection,” explained Nicole M. Iovine, M.D., Ph.D., chief epidemiology officer for UF Health Shands. “However, the vaccines direct your immune system to make a focused and high-level response against just the spike protein of the virus, which we know is the only part of the virus the antibodies need to block to prevent re-infection. So it’s very beneficial to get vaccinated even if you previously had Covid.”

Vaccinations are readily available

If you are in the Gainesville area, walk-up vaccination clinics continue to be available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the UF Health Pharmacy on the first floor of the Medical Plaza and on the first floor of UF Health Springhill. Additional locations in Gainesville may be found on UF Health’s website, and those throughout the state may be found on the Florida Department of Health’s website.

Testing and assistance are too

UF Health Screen, Test & Protect staff continue to be available for support seven days a week. You are encouraged to get tested if you know you have been exposed to someone who has contracted the virus or if you are experiencing symptoms. Faculty and staff may schedule a test at any time by logging into ONE.UF, and members of the Screen, Test & Protect team continue to be available to answer questions. For more information, call (352) 273-9790 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and visit the website for further details.

Published: July 21st, 2021

Category: News, Wellness