DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Health leaders believe as cases continue to rise, some people on the fence may be feeling compelled to get vaccinated. As we close in on 50 percent, those leaders say this is not the time to let our guard down — we are still far away from herd immunity.

“It doesn’t change what we’re doing but every bit helps,” said said Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital. “We’re continuing to move in the right direction but we have to pick up the pace though.”

As the state of Ohio closes in on having 50 percent of residents at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, health leaders believe the current surge in cases may be the reason some are changing their minds.

“When they see their friends and family members get sick and go to the hospital, sometimes that will spur on people who were on the fence or just waiting to see what happens,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information supervisor for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.

Right now, the lowest vaccination rates are among younger eligible Ohioans which may cause concern heading back into the school year.

“We are still seeing too many healthy young people who are getting sick and dying from this,” said Dr. Colon. “Being young and being healthy doesn’t eliminate your risk from COVID-19, you’ve got to take this seriously.”

Health leaders say they anticipated Ohio being a lot further along in vaccination status.

“The pandemic isn’t over, maybe some people fell into a null of oversecurity and thought this was done or wasn’t going to strike them but we are well into this pandemic still,” said Dr. Colon.

Additionally, health leaders believe once children under 12-years-old are eligible to receive a dose they expect vaccination rates may increase then.