Health officials say COVID vaccine rates need improvement

Over 74 percent of adults in the U.S have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 8:59 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The CDC shows 74.4 percent of adults in the U.S have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. But each state varies and health officials say there is room for improvement.

Alabama remains behind in vaccinations, just under 50 percent of the state has had at least one dose of the vaccine. That puts the state at the top of the list for least vaccinated. Health officials say it shows.

“The experience with COVID, and particularly this Delta variant, it’s different from community to community, but one thing is really clear, in communities with much higher vaccination rates they’re not seeing the same level of surge,” Dr. Cameron Webb, Senior advisor for equity on the white house COVID-19 task force, said. “The same level of cases, hospitalizations and tragically deaths, that we’re seeing in communities with much lower vaccination rates.”

Dr. Webb said the proof is there.

Over the last few weeks, the vaccines effectiveness has kept people safe from the worst of COVID.

He said the Delta variant is highly transmissible and brings a one-thousand times higher viral load than previous strains.

“When you put those together you have a variant that is going to spread farther and spread faster,” Dr. Webb said. “That’s why it was about 2.7 percent of our cases at the end of May, and now it’s about 99 percent of our cases today.”

The nation currently faces a spike in cases and hospitalizations among young people. The CDC shows those 18 to 29 year olds having the highest percentage of COVID cases; sitting at 22.5 percent.

“If you’re a younger person, this virus can do a lot of harm to you,” Dr. Webb said.

Doctor George Narby is the chief medical officer at Southeast Health. He said they are seeing a similar trend.

“We’re seeing younger patients end up in the hospital and younger patients end up in the intensive care unit,” Dr. Narby said. “It remains that people with comorbidities, with other underlying health issues and other concerns that have been well documented before are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to struggle with infection.”

Dr. Narby said the COVID vaccination is still the most effective way to put the pandemic in the past.

“Unvaccinated patients have five times more COVID infections than fully vaccinated patients and unvaccinated patients have 29 times more COVID hospitalization than fully vaccinated patients,” Dr. Narby said.

These doctors both say fully vaccinated COVID patients are less likely to have a severe symptomatic illness, less likely to become hospitalized and are less likely to die from this virus.

On Wednesday, Alabama hospitals cared for 2,890 COVID patients. 122 of them are at Southeast Health and the majority are unvaccinated.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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