ADPH: Despite more vaccines and vaccinations, don’t give up your masks

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many millions of N95 masks are pouring out of American...
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many millions of N95 masks are pouring out of American factories and heading into storage.(Source: CNN)
Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:00 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama is expecting to receive more than 40,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. The J&J vaccine is a single dose vaccine and can provide more shots to more people. But whether you get this vaccine or one of the other two dose vaccines, you are urged to keep your masks on for a while longer.

Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health understands people are tired of wearing masks and social distancing, but even with positive cases coming down and more people getting the shots, the state is not ready to return to the old days just yet.

Alabama has given more than 930,000 vaccine shots out of 1.3 million doses received. This week, six mass drive-thru vaccinations sites will start giving second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Even though Johnson and Johnson will send more doses to the state, Dr. Landers said people can’t give up wearing masks just yet.

“Keep in mind, our overall positivity rate in Alabama is a little over 8.5% and some of our communities are higher. That is still very high community transmission,” Landers said.

Landers said the three approved vaccines prevent you from getting very sick and out of the hospital, but what they don’t know is if you can transmit the infectious disease to others after getting those shots.

“It is not a time to relax our standards. It’s absolutely time to keep the masking in place. We need to keep social distancing. We need to keep respiratory hygiene. We are still on a learning curve,” Landers said.

A number of states around the country are considering lowering health restrictions because of improving COVID numbers and hospitalizations. Landers said the increasing number of the UK variant virus in the country and Alabama makes that even more difficult.

“Due to our surveillance, we now have over 35 cases that have now been picked up in Alabama and again we have more. If you have that many on surveillance, then you know you have more,” Landers said.

Last week, the variant number was just 22 - now it’s at least 35. Landers says the UK virus is expected to become the dominant virus in Alabama. She is asking people to keep their safety measures for a few more months. Alabama’s face mask order is set to expire this week.

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