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Leon County Commissioner Brian Welch shares COVID-19 experience

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The CDC is reporting that as of July 12, more than 5,000 vaccinated people have been hospitalized or died from the COVID-19 virus.

Leon County Commissioner Brian Welch is one of the thousands who tested positive after getting vaccinated, and shared his story with WCTV in hopes others will still get vaccinated.

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 134,000 people in Leon County, or about 51 percent, are currently vaccinated, but health officials and local leaders are saying that’s not enough

Comm. Welch said he, along with his family, received the COVID-19 shot as soon as they could, but still, they all tested positive earlier this month.

“Being vaccinated, we thought we were protected from getting the virus,” explained Comm. Welch. “And I think like a lot of people are discovering in the last few weeks, that’s not necessarily the case.”

14 days in quarantine later, Comm. Welch said he’s still glad they got the vaccine..

“If we were not vaccinated, I think we probably could have expected to have worse symptoms than we had. But as it turned out, we had fairly moderate symptoms. But we still had to withdraw from society for 14 days,” Comm. Welch said.

Staff at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare said that more than 90 percent of COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated. TMH’s Dr. Mark Wheeler said they know that with every vaccine, some people’s immune systems will not respond and they won’t be protected.

“The idea is, if enough people get vaccinated and it stops the spread and propagation of the virus, then the people that are vaccinated and are not protected, therefore will be better off because there wouldn’t be as much virus around to get them sick,” said Wheeler.

Comm. Welch said that’s why he hopes his story will help break down the wall of vaccine hesitancy.

“We’re going to have continue to fight this vaccine hesitancy,” said Comm. Welch. He told WCTV that the county has dedicated about $500,000 in recent months to getting people in to communities with high vaccine hesitancy.

He expects that work to continue.

TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center issued a joint statement Wednesday urging people to get vaccinated and said there are now 47 hospitalizations with the virus.

They said, in part, that symptoms in these breakthrough cases are likely to be significantly less severe than if the individual had not been vaccinated and COVID-19vaccines continue to be our best tool to protect people from getting the virus.

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