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Health leaders concerned about Alabama’s low vaccination rate

Published: Jun. 6, 2021 at 9:54 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama no longer has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, placing just ahead of Mississippi. But, state health officials said Alabama’s numbers are still disappointing.

“I’m certainly disappointed that we are as low as we are,” Dr. Karen Landers with the state health department said. “We had a surge in vaccine and we had a higher overall number of people being vaccinated. Once we added the 12 year population, it actually lowered our overall rate because there were more people eligible than there had been previously.”

Landers said she estimates only around 30% of people are vaccine hesitant and only 2% will likely not take it all. She thinks the rest of the unvaccinated population just isn’t in a rush.

“I’ll just wait because it looks like things are getting better, so I don’t really need it right now,” Landers said. “That really is unfortunately not a good way to approach this because we do still have Covid-19 in the state of Alabama.”

Dr. Landers said one factor that could be playing into low rates is the quantities of vaccine being shipped to the state. Pfizer used to only come in quantities of more than one thousand, making it difficult to give to smaller providers. But now, it’s coming in shipments of 450.

“That is really helpful,” Landers said. “Entities would have to order 1,170 doses and it would be harder to give that many doses. Smaller entities can now manage this smaller package with Pfizer.”

Dr. Landers said the smaller shipments of Pfizer is helpful since most of the population can take it. She said the state has already been able to increase providers using it, meaning it’s more accessible.

“There are some changes that have been allowed for the vaccine to be stored for a certain period of time in a regular vaccine freezer as well as some other changes with the cold chain,” Landers said. “Again, just progress in being able to get the vaccine out to communities.”

With more Pfizer product in the hands of more providers, Landers thinks the vaccination rate could go up.

“We are not there, but we can be there, we can be there if more Alabamians would just step up and take this vaccine,” she said.

Dr. Landers said it is important for as many people as possible to get vaccinated this summer, because she is concerned for a potential spike in the fall when more people are spending time indoors.

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