Health officials say enough people won’t be vaccinated by spring break to ease up on safety recommendations
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Vaccine providers began administering the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week, but even with a third product, health officials said it won’t make enough of a difference in time for spring break.
Dr. Karen Landers with the state health department said while case numbers and hospitalizations are better, they aren’t improved enough to ease up on safety recommendations for spring break.
“I am concerned about spring break,” Dr. Landers said. “Most of the persons that are traveling out and about on spring break are persons that aren’t really in the vaccine categories.”
So far, more than 689,000 people have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but Landers said that is still not enough to let our guards down.
“We are still at a fairly high percentage with our state percent positivity being about 9%,” she said. “I would certainly like to see it a lot lower than that and a lot lower than 5%. I don’t think we are going to have enough people vaccinated by the time spring break comes along for various places to really alter our recommendations for mitigation standards.”
She said a spike in case numbers right now could flood and overwhelm our hospitals, because many high risk people still don’t qualify for a vaccine.
“Keep in mind that young people can still have a very severe course of disease,” Landers said. “There are older persons that still can be infected and require hospitalization. I think it could drive our numbers back up.”
Dr. Landers said if you are planning to travel for spring break, the recommendations haven’t changed much since the Christmas holiday. She asked everyone to take safety precautions if you travel out of state and to test and quarantine when you return.
“I do think we have a lot of hope here,” Landers said. “But at the same time, we need to remain cautious and we need to remain vigilant. Take that level of personal responsibility and continue to protect yourselves.”
Dr. Landers said regardless of case numbers over spring break, it won’t impact the state’s vaccination efforts. She said the J&J vaccine was just given to more than 50 first-time providers at new locations.
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