Vaccine hesitancy still a problem in Alabama

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama continues to have a problem getting people to clinics to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Alabama, according to the CDC, ranks dead last in the country. There have been some improvements, but not enough to put the pandemic behind us.

Alabama has more vaccines and healthcare providers offering shots than just a month ago, but health leaders will tell you not enough people are getting shots to help control the spread of the virus.

Alabama hit a milestone recently. The state went over a million people being fully vaccinated. But if you look at a recent poll of vaccinations, Alabama ranks eighth for vaccine hesitancy.

“There are still people who are confused if I don’t have insurance, I can’t go get my vaccine or if I don’t have a photo ID, I can’t go get my vaccine. That is not correct - the vaccine is free,” said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Healthcare clinics are not requiring insurance, ID, or appointments. Health leaders said there are people who may have concerns about side effects or safety issues. They may question other vaccines after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused because a few women developed blood clots.

“Getting these vaccines are our ticket to ride. It’s our ticket to re-engage. It gives us back our freedom,” said Dr. Michael Saag with UAB Infectious Diseases.

Doctors said some people are questioning the vaccines or may just be opposed to them. Given the hesitancy, that means it’s up to their doctors to be sure they are getting the right information.

“Every one of us wants a sense of normal. We absolutely need more people to take advantage of the vaccine,” Landers said.

To get over vaccine hesitancy, there continues to be an education campaign with billboards and social media.

The big drive-thru site in Bessemer can provide a thousand shots a day, but so far, they haven’t hit a thousand in any of the five days since opening.

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