18% of Alabamians have gotten a dose of coronavirus vaccine; State Health Officer warns hesitancy may soon be biggest challenge
MONTGOMERY — Dr. Scott Harris announced Friday at a press conference that Alabama’s vaccination efforts are proceeding smoothly, with 877,815 individuals having received at least one dose of a vaccine product, roughly 18% of the population.
Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer and the head of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), said up to two-thirds of adults in Alabama will be permitted to schedule their shot when eligibility expands on Monday.
Notably, Harris gave a firm commitment on Friday that Alabama would expand eligibility to all adult citizens by May 1, and added, “It could be much earlier.”
[Editor’s Note: There is often a lag of up to a few days in between when a vaccine shot is given and reported in the data. The number of shots given this week is vastly undercounted for that reason.]
More than 1.3 million shots have now been administered in Alabama, with 529,402 citizens being fully vaccinated.
Harris relayed in his press conference that 877,815 citizens have gotten at least one dose and 529,402 are fully vaccinated. As of 4:00 p.m. Friday, public dashboards have not yet been updated with that information.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine products. In the case of the Johnson & Johnson product, a person is fully vaccinated two weeks after taking that vaccine’s single dose.
Harris said due to the time necessary to ramp up production, Alabama is not expecting more shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until April.
Alabama’s top doctor noted that the supply of doses the state is receiving is set to go up next week and in the weeks after.
Harris indicated worry that the increased supply and ever-more-efficient delivery system are set to switch, in coming weeks, Alabama’s problem from not having enough vaccine for its people to not having enough people willing to take the vaccines.
“We’re probably at a point now where we are going to find out how much vaccine hesitancy we have,” said Harris on Friday. “We’re going to soon have enough product available that we’ll be able to make some determinations.”
Harris noted that ADPH had run a poll of Alabama’s citizens and it returned that one-third of the population was firmly resistant to getting vaccinated.
Alabama’s State Health Officer said his department would be mounting multiple communications campaigns with messages targeted at the different communities that show the most hesitancy.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.