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Harris commends mass vaccination efforts in Selma, across state

Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris conducted a teleconference Friday morning with members of the Alabama press.

Harris began the conference by remarking how widely successful mass vaccine clinics across the state went this week due largely to many different groups working together.

There was a total of eight mass vaccine clinics across the state in Anniston, Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa.

Harris specifically commended efforts made in Selma.

The drive-through clinic at Bloch Park, hosted by Vaughan Regional Medical Center (VRMC), distributed all 5,000 allocated doses by Wednesday afternoon.

“I think there were a few people frustrated who planned on getting vaccinated later in the week, but overall it was a tremendous effort in Selma,” said Harris.

Harris reported that across all eight clinics, over 70 thousand doses of the vaccine were administered.

“It was a very successful model,” he said. “We hope to do it in the future.”

Harris also discussed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the ADPH anticipates will soon be approved and available by the end of this month or in early March.

A phase three trial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed an overall efficacy rate of 66% and 85% effectiveness overall in preventing severe illness from COVID-19; the trial demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and deaths.

The arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes three available vaccines including the Moderna and Pfizer products.

Harris encouraged Alabamians not to “vaccine shop” and pick the one they think is best, stating all are effective at fighting the spread of COVID-19.

“If you get the chance to take a shot, dot it,” he said. “Don’t pick and choose between different brands. We believe [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] is going to be another effective option and we want people to take it.”

While vaccine rollout in the state began slowly, Harris said the state is now catching up.

“We’re now giving everything we can give,” he said.

Harris cited the state’s largest problem as a limited amount of vaccines.