Alabama’s vaccination rate starting to rise
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s COVID-19 vaccination rate plummeted this summer, but in recent weeks the state has seen an uptick in vaccine interest.
Jamelle Young, pharmacy manager at City Drug in downtown Montgomery, said they’ve seen an increase in people wanting to get the shots. Young said what’s been encouraging those to get their first dose has been family.
“They have been motivated by their family to get it, and I ask, ‘More than health care professionals?’ and they said ‘Yes, more than health care professionals, what my family think has made me want to go get it,” Young said.
“A lot of the patients have said that their mom has motivated them, or people’s children have asked them to go ahead and get the shot and so they are coming in and getting the vaccine,” Young went on to say.
According to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state’s vaccination rate has more than doubled since mid-July.
“We’re excited that the vaccination numbers are increasing,” said State Health Officer Scott Harris.
Harris said in the past couple of weeks the state has been administering close to 12,000 to 15,000 shots a day. Those are numbers not seen since May. Harris said two-thirds of those were first doses.
“It’s two or three times what we were seeing in July when we were lucky sometimes to get 5,000 shots in a day,” Harris said.
But when compared to the 40,000 shots being administered a day back in March and April, Harris said, “we still have a lot of room for improvement.”
Just 34% of Alabamians are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the highly contagious delta variant spreads, posing the biggest threat to the unvaccinated.
“I think overall people get motivated to get vaccinated when they have some personal connection to why they are getting vaccinated, and right now our case numbers are going up, our hospitalization numbers are going way up. I think it’s really likely that a lot of these people know somebody who’s dealing with this,” Harris said.
Young also said another motivating factor for people to get the vaccine has been that children under the age of 12 are not eligible to get the shots. It’s a concern amongst parents as we begin a new school year.
“The parents are really concerned because we are going back face-to-face,” Young said. “They want to do their best to protect their children also.”
Doctors hope that the increase in vaccinations will continue, and that it doesn’t take the virus having to hit close to home before people make the decision to get the shots.
“Hospitals are really having a tough time right now, and again, the best thing people can do to help out the hospital in their community is please go get vaccinated so that you don’t end up being somebody that needs a hospital bed,” Harris said.
The state continues to have one of the lowest vaccine rates in the nation. The lack of interest in getting vaccinated has also lead to expiring vaccines. The state has been forced to waste over 65,000 doses so far, according to Harris.
Over 1,400 locations in Alabama offers the vaccine for free.
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