Alabama in Five Clusters of Unvaccinated People in the U.S.

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new study of unvaccinated people in the country shows a threat for new COVID-19 surges.

Health officials are concerned areas with low vaccination rates could become breeding grounds for new COVID-19 variants that could be resistant to vaccines.

Research from Georgetown University identified 30 clusters across the U.S. with low vaccination rates and a significant population. Five of the areas are of particular concern, and two of the five areas are in Alabama.

Alabama health leaders said the state is seeing increasing number of COVID cases and hospitalizations. With only little over a third of the state vaccinated that means these increased numbers could be growing and the biggest concern; a new variant virus which the current vaccines won’t work against.

“We clearly have pockets in our state that are under vaccinated or unvaccinated. We have a variant that is circulating that is 50% more contagious than what we have dealt with in the past. So we are clearly at risk,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama State Health Officer said.

What makes these clusters a risk, is that it will allow the current virus or variant to mutate into something that current COVID vaccines will not work as well against.

“I would say most things mutate to become more infectious not less, because these more infectious ones spread to more people. You got more of that brand out there. We anticipate that will happen,” Harris said.

The clusters include the city of Montgomery but more of it is in small counties in northwest and southeast Alabama. Harris admitted some in Alabama are just not going to get a COVID-19 shot while others are just waiting.

“I think there are still a lot of people on the fence. They are waiting to see what happens with everyone else. What are my friends and neighbors doing? What are most people doing?” Harris said.

Harris believes they can reach those people and that if they can, they hope they’ll make up their minds sooner rather later.

Dr. Harris said there are concerns about increasing numbers as the state gets closer to school starting again and with people attending various big crowd events later this summer or fall.

Those five clusters in Southeast, Southwest and part of the Midwest includes about 15 million people, only about 28% are fully vaccinated.

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