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First Coast Lags Behind National COVID Vaccination Rate

COVID-19 vaccine being administered.

The First Coast is lagging behind the nation when it comes to the percentage of residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

While 59.8% of the U.S. population 16 and up has received at least one vaccination, just 37.6% of Duval County residents in the same age group hare received at least one vaccination.

So far, 606,271 total doses have been administered in Duval County, and 30.9% of those 16 and up are considered fully vaccinated.

In St. Johns County the vaccination rate is considerably higher, with 55.7% receiving at least one dose and 48.9% fully vaccinated. Clay County has a 32.4% first-dose vaccination rate, and 27% are fully vaccinated. In Nassau County the partial vaccination rate as of May 17 was 43.5%, with 38.8% fully vaccinated. 

Statewide, 46.6%, or 9.6 million people, have received at least one dose, while 7.5 million people — 36.9% — are fully vaccinated.

Although vaccination rates are climbing, concern remains among some health experts about whether the Centers for Disease Control should have eased masking recommendations this soon before most people have gotten vaccinated. The CDC says, in most cases, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks.

But UF Health Jacksonville Director of Infection and Prevention Chad Neilsen said, “It is the right move from a scientific perspective.”

But he also said businesses and organizations may want to continue requiring masks.

“From my perspective, it's not only within their rights to continue to ask (for) masking, but it's probably a good thing, being that there's still about 40 to 50% of Floridians who are not vaccinated and who are eligible. So do you want a lot of unvaccinated people roaming around your store without a mask on? Probably not,” Neilsen said Monday on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Neilsen points out that the CDC is unequivocally clear that if you are not vaccinated, you should still be wearing a mask in public. The full interview with Neilsen can be heard on Monday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Editor’s Note: Most of the percentages in this story were calculated by All data cited is from the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.