• 68°

ADPH steps up rural vaccination efforts

As the nation marks one year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which more than half a million Americans have died, Alabama is marking its own tragic milestone with more than 500,000 cases of the disease and more than 10,200 deaths to date, according to an update from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

However, vaccination rates are increasing and the state is now receiving an average of 100,00 or more doses of vaccine each week, so far administering more than 1.2 million of the nearly 1.7 million doses received since vaccinations began.

Further, the department is boasting a twenty-percent or more vaccination rate in 19 Alabama counties.

“Twenty percent or more of the residents age 16 and older of 19 Alabama counties have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine to date,” the ADPH update stated. “Successful public health efforts to achieve vaccine equity have resulted in higher vaccine uptake among African-American residents of Black Belt counties.”

Dallas County is among those listed as having 20 percent or more of their residents vaccinated, along with Perry, Wilcox, Conecuh, Hale, Clarke, Monroe, Marengo, Washington, Lee, Bullock, Tallapoosa, Henry, Macon, Houston, Colbert, Cullman, Baldwin and Lauderdale counties.

“Vaccines are one key to protecting the most vulnerable and helping stop the pandemic in Alabama,” the update stated. “Supply remains an issue, as there is not yet enough vaccine available for everyone who would like to be vaccinated.”

While the department is boasting high vaccine rates in a number of Black Belt counties, efforts are ongoing to boost vaccine confidence in the region.

According to the update, a five-member team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently touched down in Alabama “to explore local approaches on how to improve vaccine confidence.”

The team will begin its work in Sumter County, moving across the region from there, and will be on the ground for the next three weeks.

“Team members will talk with local residents, community and faith leaders and healthcare workers to understand their perspectives and suggestions on how to ensure high uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, especially in Black communities,” the ADPH update stated. “Efforts will focus on identifying common questions and concerns or other barriers to uptake that residents have, addressing them through community outreach solutions and promoting information sharing about the benefits and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, so that everyone is protected from the virus.”