Orange County officials combat vaccine hesitancy with townhall meeting

A lot of people have had questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. On Monday, those questions were answered in Orange County.

"What is exactly is in that vaccine for those who think that from a religious point of view it’s not suitable?"

 "What would you say to those who say getting COVID is better to reach herd immunity that way?"

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, health officials and doctors made it a point to come face-to-face with the public to combat vaccine hesitancy.

"Many of them we’ve heard over and over again, they feel the vaccine was rushed. They just don’t want to be first. They don’t believe the science," said AdventHealth Chief Health Equity Officer Dr. Alric Simmonds.

Hesitancy is clear throughout the county. This weekend after the Orlando FEMA site started issuing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine again, health officials confirmed 90% of the daily supply there went unused after the 11-day pause.

"The more important question is what is the risk when you get COVID-19 and in almost all situations? The risks of COVID is worse than the risk of the vaccine," said AdventHealth Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Victor Herrera.

That’s something Orange County officials are trying to get across the community with its "I Got My Shot" vaccine hesitancy campaign. The next focus is more mobile vaccinations.

"The key is to make it as convenient as possible for people so they do not have to travel long distances in order to get access," Mayor Demings said.

Officials say based on surveys, they’ve seen a 20%-30% increase in people interested in getting vaccinated. They hope that shows in the numbers soon.