MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — After months of low vaccine demand, Alabama is seeing an uptick in the number of people getting inoculated against COVID-19 as the state experiences a surge of cases and a sharp rise in hospitalizations.
Beginning on July 22, the number of daily vaccinations rose to more than 10,000 on most days for the first time since May. The state delivered 16,639 doses on July 30, compared to 7,144 on June 30.
“Some people are getting the message,” Dr. Jeremy Rogers, an emergency room physician and director of clinical services at Grandview Medical Center, told reporters Wednesday. “We need a lot more people to get the message to get vaccinated to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.”
Health officials have expressed concern about the recent spike in cases, fueled by the rapidly spreading delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals jumped from 213 on July 4 to 1,848 Thursday, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“The most important thing we can do right now is to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dr. Mark Wilson, health officer for the Jefferson County Department of Health, said Wednesday.
The current hospitalization numbers are far lower than the 3,000 recorded at the peak of the pandemic in January. Health officials have expressed concern about the steep upward trend, however.
Heather Lindsey, who got the shot Wednesday along with her husband and son, told al.com that she had been hesitant because the vaccine has yet to get full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But her daughter, a nurse at Thomas Hospital, persuaded her to do it.
School superintendents in Alabama’s Black Belt region on Thursday encouraged all eligible students to get vaccinated.
“It is critical to have safe face-to-face instruction this school year,” Greene County Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones said in a statement. The more students and teachers get vaccinated, the better the schools will be protected, Jones said.