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Vaccine rates on the rise: At least 30 percent vaccinated in 29 counties

According to a Thursday update from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), at least 30 percent of residents in 29 counties, including Dallas County and its neighbors Lowndes, Marengo, Wilcox, Perry and Montgomery counties, 16 years and older have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The ADPH noted in the update that a successful pubic health effort aimed at vaccine equity has had a particularly positive impact “among African-American residents of Black Belt counties.”

The effort to increase vaccination rates has been bolstered both by the ongoing Alabama National Guard (ALNG) mobile clinics making their way across rural parts of the state and the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine.

The ALNG has been rotating across 24 rural counties in Alabama to provide primary COVID-19 vaccinations – to date, nearly 9,400 vaccinations have been administered to “under-served and rural counties throughout the state.”

The ALNG will launch second-dose clinics April 13 – at those clinics, 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available for anyone who has not yet received either the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccine.

An ALNG clinic canceled in Hale County last month due to inclement weather has been rescheduled for April 15 at the Boys and Girls Club in Greensboro, where patients will receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Despite the ongoing effort to vaccinate and get the pandemic under heel, the state has rescinded its mask mandate, effective Friday at 5 p.m., but continues to urge Alabamians to wear facial coverings, saying “masks remain one of the most successful tools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

COVID-19 funeral assistance up to $9,000 per decedent is now available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by way of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the recently-passed American Rescue Plan.

The assistance is available to those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 after January 20, 2020, and applicants must submit all required documentation to be eligible.

More information can be found online at www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Beginning April 12, individuals can contact FEMA at 844-684-6333 once they have the required information and documentation ready to submit.