Federal data show that Florida has more COVID-19 cases tied to newer, more transmissible strains of the coronavirus than any other state.
According to the CDC, Florida has racked up more than 3,000 cases of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which originated in the U.K. and is more contagious than the original strain.
That’s in keeping with how medical experts expect viruses to behave, according to University of Florida Health Jacksonville Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Ashley Norse.
“Covid is a virus; viruses rapidly change,” Norse said. “That’s why, every year, you have to get a flu shot. Like most other viruses that we have vaccines for, every year the strain will be slightly different, and we’ll likely have to have a COVID shot every year.”
Norse is a leading member of the Florida Medical Association, which is urging Floridians to get vaccinated in a hurry in light of the high prevalence of new variants under the campaign #TakeItFromADoctor.
“I think there’s this misconception out there that if I get the vaccine, I won’t be diagnosed with COVID, and that’s not true,” Norse said. “People can still get diagnosed with COVID. The purpose of the vaccine is to keep them from getting sick.”
Norse said she can already see that working in her emergency room.
“People that are coming in with COVID aren’t getting admitted to the ICUs in the high numbers that they were over the summer,” she said.
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