Local health officials react as COVID-19 cases and vaccine misinformation soar


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The masses were once on hand for the debut of the mass vaccination clinic at Military Circle Mall has dropped to a trickle.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, health officials say the highly contagious delta variant is partially to blame.

 “What we did not anticipate is the development of so many variant strains,” said Dr. Annie Williams the Deputy Director of the Norfolk Health Department.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

Virginia is now reporting a 7-day moving average of 373.7 cases per day, which is a 145.37% increase from one month ago. During this same time, misinformation on social media has continued to multiply.

Just last week, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that misinformation is “a serious threat to public health.”

President Biden shared similar views, saying that, “my hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine.

This misinformation has resonated with many, including Norfolk resident, Carrie Hand, who backed up that claim after getting her long-delayed first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

(WAVY photo/Kevin Romm)

She said that people have been giving her “bad information” and saying that “when you get the vaccine, it will make you sick and you’ll end up in the hospital.”

When asked to identify her source, Hand said, “Facebook.”

As misinformation campaigns continue in full force, health officials, including Dr. Williams, have the same message: get the vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“I can say with certainty if you are fully vaccinated you can protect yourself and the ones you love from becoming ill and dying or becoming hospitalized from the infection,” said Dr. Williams.

She said that 99% of new infections requiring hospitalizations, as well as deaths, are those who are not fully vaccinated.

Local health officials hope more children over the age of 12 will get the shot as the new school year begins in less than two months.  

(WAVY photo/Kevin Romm)

14-year old Lauren Gregory, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, got the Pfizer shot at the urgings of her grandmother.

“We’ve been talking to her about it for a while and I finally persuaded her to get it,” said her grandmother. “I’m taking my first trip with family on Sunday. So if she is vaccinated that will make me feel better.”

Lauren told 10 on Your Side that she is ready to hit the road with her grandma for a trip to Bush Gardens.

Officials are saying that there is still optimism.

Health officials want those shots in young arms at least 21 days before the start of classes in the fall. For more information from the Norfolk Health Department, call the Norfolk COVID-19 hotline at (757) 683-2745.

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