NEW ORLEANS — The coronavirus is attacking people at the same rate is was before. The only difference, it's attacking those who are not vaccinated.
Louisiana and other southern states are lagging far behind when it comes to the percentage of people vaccinated, and that has some doctors concerned about the summer months.
“It feels like 104 in Thibodaux. That's our hottest spot right now with the humidity,” Meteorologist Payton Malone announces on his Morning News broadcast.
It's that time of year for being indoors in the AC for the next few months, but that southeast Louisiana ritual could mean a summer coronavirus surge.
“There's several well documented outbreaks or transmission that occurred in restaurants, in churches, that are way past six feet,” explained Dr. Julio Figueroa, Division Director of Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Figueroa says the concern is southern states have a lower number of vaccinated people.
“The unvaccinated individual is still at risk, perhaps even higher risk than was last year, because of these new variants that are more contagious,” he said.
So far, vaccines protect against the current variants. Older adults have high vaccination rates which is keeping them out of the hospital, but African-Americans have fewer numbers vaccinated, so they are getting sick and going to the hospital in higher numbers.
“Since widespread vaccinations though, what we're seeing now is the people who are getting COVID are almost exclusively our black residents,” City Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno told the City Council.
There is the same problem with young adults who are not getting the shot.
“This is an age group where many have medical comorbidities who are still at risk and so we really do want to get that number closer to and above 70 (percent,)” She said.
And teens need the vaccine too.
“Adolescents are now more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than the flu,” added Dr. Avegno.
“The vaccinated people are much less likely to get sick, and come to the hospital, while the unvaccinated people are the ones that are coming in, so that's the concern,” said Dr. Figueroa.
And he says if you had the virus, natural immunity might not protect you from all the new forms of the virus out there.
“The vaccine is even better than we could have possibly imagined in terms of its side effect profile, in terms of its effectiveness against variants,” he said.
So doctors advise, get the shot so your summer trip is not one to the hospital.
And if you are indoors with a lot of other people and you are not vaccinated, doctors recommend that you still wear a mask.