Even though Bulloch County has the lowest vaccination rate in the area and one of the lowest in Georgia, new cases of COVID-19 continue to decline locally.
In his weekly report, Director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Ted Wynn said the county reported 17 new cases in the past week; however, five deaths due to COVID were recorded — two confirmed and three probable — since last Tuesday.
Since the pandemic began, the Georgia Department of Public Health said there have been both 94 confirmed and 94 probable deaths for a total of 188 in Bulloch County. One third of the deaths have occurred in the past 10 weeks — 31 confirmed and 33 probable.
Including the 17 new cases, Bulloch has had 59 cases reported since Sept. 30, an average of about three per day. The local vaccination rate, however, ranks last among the seven counties adjacent to Bulloch. According to the Department of Health, 38% of Bulloch residents have received at least one dose, while 34% are fully vaccinated. Across Georgia, 55% of the population has received at least one shot and 49% are fully vaccinated.
Last week, Wynn said: “(I urge residents) to please reconsider and get vaccinated if you are not, and get a booster if you are eligible.”
COVID vaccines are available at most doctors’ offices and area pharmacies. Pfizer booster shots also are available to those 65 and over or who meet other eligibility requirements. While the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were recommended for booster shots, the FDA has not given them final approval, though that may come this week.
The Bulloch County Health Department will hold a drive-thru vaccination clinic on Friday at its offices on West Altman Street in Statesboro.
Both flu and COVID-19 vaccines will be administered from 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccinations will be offered.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is safe to receive both vaccines at the same time.
“We have a history of vaccinating our kids with multiple vaccines,” said flu specialist Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Staying up to date on all vaccinations is especially important this year, experts say.
Since people were masked and staying home, last year's flu season barely registered. This year, it's unclear how intense the flu season will be with more places reopening.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, and says ideally everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. It takes 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to take full effect so if you wait until the flu begins circulating, your body may not have time to build up protection. Vaccine options vary by age but include several types of shots or a nasal spray version.
New cases reported at Georgia Southern University rose slightly after recording seven consecutive weeks of fewer cases.
Confirmed and self-reported cases at Georgia Southern have fallen from 434 across its three campuses the week of Aug. 16–22, to 26 for the most recent week — Oct. 11–17. There were 16 cases reported the previous week. Of the total number, 18 were on the Statesboro campus. There were 389 cases reported on the Statesboro campus for Aug. 16–22.
Bulloch County Schools
Similar to Georgia Southern, reported cases at Bulloch County schools have dropped from 474 for the week of Aug. 15–21 to five for Oct. 10–16. Only four schools reported any cases at all last week and only one school had more than one new case.
Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center had nine patients hospitalized with COVID and four on ventilators on Monday. That is down from 11 patients with five on ventilators from the previous Monday.