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ADPH: Black Belt effort yielding ‘positive results’

According to an update for the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), a recent push to “achieve vaccine equity” across the Black Belt is yielding “positive results,” with more than 29 counties now boasting a 20 percent vaccination rate.

Twenty percent or more of the residents between 16 years and older have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the following counties: Perry, Wilcox, Conecuh, Clarke, Marengo, Dallas, Hale, Monroe, Lee, Bullock, Tallapoosa, Washington, Macon, Clay, Houston, Colbert, Henry, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Baldwin, Cullman, Mobile, Franklin, Jefferson, Lamar, Chambers, Choctaw, Greene and Morgan counties

“Successful public health efforts to achieve vaccine equity have resulted in higher vaccine uptake among African American residents of Black Belt counties,” the update stated. “Vaccines are one key to protecting the most vulnerable and helping stop the pandemic in Alabama. Supply remains an issue, as there is not yet enough vaccine available for everyone who would like to be vaccinated.”

As of Monday, the state reported more than 508,200 cases of COVID-19, over 10,300 deaths due to the disease and, as of the previous day, more than 46,600 hospitalizations due to the pandemic.

There has been a steady uptick in the amount of vaccine delivered each week, with the most recent update noting that between 110,000 and 115,000 were being shipped per week – so far, the state has received more than 1.8 million doses of vaccine and has administered more than 1.2 million doses.

The state is currently gearing up to expand eligibility on March 22 to residents 55 years and older and a larger swath of critical care, as well as people with high-risk medical conditions and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Residents as young as 16 that fall into one of the expanded groups are eligible to receive the vaccine, but the ADPH is reminding the public that only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for ages 16 to 18.

“As vaccine eligibility expands to include persons 16 and older with high risk medical conditions on March 22, it is important to note that Pfizer has the only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for persons age 16 and older,” the update stated. “Currently, our county health departments are giving the Moderna vaccine.”