Doctors worry low vaccination rates could cause Covid outbreaks in the fall

Addressing vaccine myths
Addressing vaccine myths
Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 2:48 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama has the second to lowest vaccination rate across the country, with only about 30 percent of people being fully vaccinated.

State health leaders said they are worried for the fall season when more people are spending time indoors and they said it’s crucial more people get vaccinated this summer.

“This could be the calm before the storm or sort of a honeymoon period,” UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Kiersten Kennedy said. “Right now, we are seeing a lull and it is probably a combination of the 30% that have gotten vaccinated and the people that have had Covid in the last months.”

“We could be looking at pockets where we would have an outbreak of Covid, where we would have an increase in numbers of cases and then an outbreak,” Dr. Karen Landers with ADPH said.

Dr. Karen Landers with the state health department said the outbreaks may not be as severe as in 2020, but it could still be enough to overwhelm hospitals again.

“Something that we saw last year, we saw pockets initially of increase in cases where one hospital would really have all it’s ICU beds filled up, so they had to go to their surge capacity,” Landers said. “When they outstripped their surge capacity, they had to refer to other hospitals.”

With only about one third of the population being vaccinated, Landers said many fall events could spark the outbreaks.

“Outbreaks related to perhaps social events, sporting events, or even school events,” she said. “Situations where people are congregating together perhaps faith-based settings.”

She said the pocket of outbreaks would likely be in younger populations because they are not as vaccinated as the 65 and older age group.

“18 to 29, we are about 21% vaccinated,” Landers said. “But, then it falls off significantly in the 30 to 49, and then it really picks back up.”

Landers said the only way to avoid fall outbreaks is vaccinating this summer.

“Absolutely none of us ever want to see anything like that again and that is why we need to be vaccinated,” Landers said.

Copyright 2021 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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