Low COVID-19 vaccination rates troubling for health experts in Alabama

Alabama News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — With a big holiday weekend behind us and another just weeks away, how concerned are experts over Alabama’s low COVID-19 vaccination rates? 

According to research by the Mayo Clinic, Alabama ranks second to last nationwide in the total percentage of residents being fully vaccinated.  And that has health experts worried that COVID-19 cases could spike. 

“And based on what I saw over the Memorial Day weekend, based on what I saw was that almost everybody was walking around without a mask if everybody was vaccinated,” said Dr. Mike Saag, infectious disease expert at the UAB School of Medicine.

Saag said while CDC guidelines allow for fully vaccinated people to go without a mask, the number of Alabamians getting vaccinated has plummeted. 

“We peaked out at around 15,000 to 17,000 vaccinations per day in April, and now we’re down below 1,000 vaccinations a day statewide,” Saag said. 

And that drop-off has Alabama’s fully vaccinated rate now below 30%. The low rate is especially concerning to state health officer dr. Scott Harris. 

“We are really running into fairly hardcore resistance on the part of people who are sure they just don’t want to take the vaccine,” Harris said.

Harris said there has been talk of a statewide vaccine lottery like ones in other states, but issues over the legality of a such an incentive has so far kept it from happening.  

For now, he and other experts are asking those who are on the fence about vaccines to speak their own doctor, and more importantly think about those around you. 

“They can get infected and put other people at risk who really are in a situation where the disease can be dangerous,” Harris said.

Dr. Harris says the state will easily miss is portion of President Biden’s goal of at 70% of Americans receiving at least once vaccine dose before the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

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