Authorities now fighting the 'pandemic of the unvaccinated'
Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero said Monday the government of Guam is running short of achieving the goal of “Liberate Guam” to reach an 80 percent vaccination rate by Liberation Day, July 21.
“While I have promised the people of Guam that I will lift restrictions upon achieving ‘Operation: Liberate Guam,’ I am faced with the harsh reality that we may fall short of our aggressive goal,” the governor said at a press conference.
“I am not lifting anymore restrictions until we get to 80-percent vaccination. With just two days left, we need over 2000 more adults to get fully vaccinated,” Leon Guerrero added.
To date, a total of 93,958 adults or 78.27-percent of adults have received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson.
Aside from needing 2,500 vaccinated individuals to achieve herd immunity by Wednesday, Guerrero also addressed the 4,727 local residents who are already weeks delayed in getting their second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We have come this far through the efforts of those of you who have put the health and safety of not only yourself, but the entire island ahead of fear. You trusted in science and did not give into misinformation. I implore you to talk to your family and friends to encourage them to get vaccinated, if not for themselves, for those who cannot,” Leon Guerrero added.
Guerrero appealed to the more than 4,000 residents who have not shown up to get their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
“You need both shots to receive the optimum protection. At this time, Public Health is everything they can to reach these residents who for whatever reason didn't get their second dose,” the governor said, reminding residents that the vaccine is free and effective.
“With the threat of the Delta variant, we do not stop at 80 percent, but we must continue to press forward until everyone who is eligible for the shot gets one,” Leon Guerrero said.
“As we've seen throughout this pandemic, this is an evolving situation, and experts now call this a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We continue to see cases of serious illness and death, mainly among those who are that are not vaccinated,” she added.
The governor noted that the Covid-19 patients who have been admitted to the hospital and about 93 to 94 percent of positive cases are those who are not vaccinated.
US state surgeon Mike Cruz echoed the governor’s concern about protecting the community as Guam gets ready for full reopening.
“There are all of these variants spreading throughout the rest of the world. One of the best protections that we know is vaccinations,” Cruz said. “As we open, the last thing we want in our communities is to have another surge that will make us put back restrictions and close down our community.”
Public Health director Arthur San Agustin said his department has documented 1,290 Covid-19 positive cases from Dec. 17, 2020 to July 18, 2021.
Of this number, he said, 1,164 or 90 percent were not vaccinated. About 962 or 83 percent were eligible but are not vaccinated. The remaining 202 or 17 percent were not eligible to be vaccinated because they fell within the age group of 0 to 11 years of age and 126 of 10 percent were fully vaccinated.
“The implications of this data is this is becoming the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” San Agustin said.
“We have localized it to say that we’ve had an epidemic of the unvaccinated on Guam as we see clusters of Covid-19 cases around our island caused by unvaccinated individuals infecting the community and the members of their family who are unvaccinated or vaccine eligible,” San Agustin said.
“With less than 2,100 more individuals to be fully inoculated, we hope to achieve the target of 80-percent herd immunity."
With ongoing incentives and raffles given to people who got vaccinated, Guerrero said the government has no plans of adding on to it.
“The most important incentive is protecting yourself from a very serious illness. I don't know if you've seen people that have had Covid-19 try to catch their breath as they fight for their life. I think these are enough motivation to go out there and get vaccinated,” she said.
“When we reach 80, 85 and 90 percent, will there be additional goals? On Wednesday, we're not going to lift any restrictions to realize that until we reach 80 percent because that to me is the responsible way to herd immunity," Leon Guerrero said.
"Once we get to the 80 percent, I will feel comfortable and so as my medical advisors will feel comfortable and confident that we are now immunized and have a strong fight against Covid- 19,” she added.