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Florida COVID-19 vaccine taskforce says new plan is needed to encourage more people to get vaccinated

The Wednesday meetings follow an uptick in statewide coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A statewide coronavirus vaccine taskforce met twice Wednesday to spread the message that a new plan is needed to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

The Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Taskforce is calling for the state and White House to reopen pop up clinics in vulnerable communities uses places like churches to reach people specifically minority communities.

The former mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown is on the taskforce and says we have to utilize our faith-based community to reach the people who are skeptical of vaccinations.

“There’s no question we have a problem," Brown said. "This is a serious issue we have to deal with the delta variant.”

Nurses at Baptist Health say they are moving nurses around and running short on staff to serve the more than 250 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized.

At UF Health Jacksonville, they reached a record high number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at 127 on Tuesday with the expectation of that number rising. 

The focus now is messaging and accessibility for the people who are debating on getting vaccinated.

“We know a certain percentage of people who are not vaccinated will never decide to get the shot, but we believe there’s a percentage of people who haven’t been but can still be reached with a positive reinforcement message to go get vaccinated," said Ron Sachs of Sachs Media. He joined the meeting to discuss his messaging campaign in the Tallahassee area.

“It is important that we increase our efforts to encourage people of color, persons living in rural communities, our teenagers and millennials to seriously consider taking the vaccine immediately," said Dr. RB Holmes, Chair and Organizer of the taskforce. "We have to push back more aggressively against the growing “anti- vaccination” naysayers and the acceleration of disinformation and misinformation."  

Holmes says the number of people who are dying from COVID-19 are those who aren’t vaccinated. 

"Too many Floridians are in hospitals because of COVID-19. We will be encouraging our federal, state and local governmental officials to partner with this task force to encourage citizens to take the vaccines and to debunk some of the blatantly erroneous conspiracy theories."

At the meetings, experts urged leaders to develop a more aggressive campaign to reach marginalized communities.

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