Alabama health leaders still concerned about COVID vaccine hesitancy

State health officials continue to fight vaccine hesitancy

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama is getting more COVID vaccines, but state health leaders continue to be worried about vaccine hesitancy.

And now, a top official with Pfizer says the country will likely need a third booster shot next year.

Alabama has seen more than 3.3 million doses delivered to the state. Almost 2.2 million have gotten at least one shot. But there is a growing concern others are not taking the shot.

The Alabama Department of Public Health continues to get reports that there are open appointments at vaccinations clinics in Alabama. Dr. Scott Harris said they knew they would approach vaccine hesitancy where people would stop short of taking shots.

The Pfizer CEO announced earlier this week that all people would likely need a third booster shot in about 12 months. In fact, there may be a need for an annual shot. Dr. Harris said this information is not surprising.

“That is exactly the situation we are in with influenza for example. It’s a respiratory illness, the vaccine doesn’t work from year to year. You get some protection, but you need a new flu shot every year. You may need a shot every year, that may be the case with COVID. We don’t really know right now,” Harris said.

Dr. Harris strongly advises you get the shot every year and talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. The Alabama Department of Health continues to launch an advertising campaign in an effort to get more people to get the shot now.

Getting vaccinated after having COVID-19

State health leaders are facing other issues, too. Many people believe if they had COVID, they don’t need the vaccine.

There are those who say they had COVID-19 and they have antibodies giving them some immunity, but health leaders say you should still consider taking the shot.

Doctors said don’t rely on having the infectious disease as the best way to protect you or your family. With the variant viruses spreading, that only adds to the concerns.

It is possible to get COVID-19 again after getting it once. Vaccines are not perfect, doctors will tell you. Harris said people should look to get vaccinated, but you need to make the decision with your doctor.

“You need to have a discussion with your own doctor and have the questions you need answered. We know people have and are getting infected more than once, it’s not unusual now. Please - because you got infected previously doesn’t mean you are not going to get it again,” Harris said.

Dr. Harris continues to fear the most vulnerable getting COVID. Those older or with health conditions could get sick, get hospitalized, and possibly die.

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