BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Jefferson County health officials discussed their COVID-19 vaccination rollout and the county’s progress in combating the COVID-19 pandemic during an annual public health address Friday morning.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson delivered the virtual address at 11 a.m. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health hosted the event as part of National Public Health Week.
During the address, Wilson recounted the county’s work over the past year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked UAB, leaders in local government, nonprofit organizations, school administrators and teachers, and many other groups of people who have collaborated with county officials to address the pandemic.
“It’s been wonderful to see the tears of relief as grandparents receive their shots…it’s been gratifying to see the renewed enthusiasm among our health department employees…” Wilson said.
As part of an annual tradition Wilson also recognized the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency as this year’s public health champion, an award the county bestows upon a local, non-healthcare organization that made a profound impact on public health.
Wilson also encouraged Alabamians to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” and to continue wearing masks despite in public despite the mask mandate expiration. State and county health officials remain “nervous” about the various coronavirus strains that continue to infect people in Alabama and other states, he said.
In acknowledging racism as a public health crisis, Wilson said “these are battles we cannot win alone…With allies it is possible to have successes in these challenging areas and more.”
As of Thursday, there were 67,071 presumed COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County. The statewide mask mandate will expire this afternoon at 5 p.m. Vaccinations in Alabama are available to anyone 16 years of age or older.