MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is urging college football fans to get vaccinated before heading to stadiums this season.
College football kicks off in a few weeks, raising concerns that crowded stadiums could help spread the coronavirus. Asked about those concerns this week, the Republican governor said the remedy is for more people to get vaccinated.
“If everybody would just get the vaccine we wouldn’t have a problem. Simply get the shot, then go enjoy your football game,” Ivey told reporters after participating in an event with college mascots on the steps of the Alabama Capitol.
Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer, said the state Department of Public has issued guidance on sporting events including recommending spacing and emphasizing the importance of vaccinations.
“Outdoor events are safer in general than indoor event, but having hundreds of thousands of people getting together during a pandemic is going to result in some disease transmission,” Harris said. “We hope people are vaccinated enough that that can be minimized.”
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S. with 34.6% of the population fully vaccinated. The state has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths that medical officials have attributed to the highly contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has also been an outspoken advocate for getting vaccinated and participated in a public service announcemen t over the summer encouraging Alabamians to please “get your COVID-19 vaccine.”
Saban earlier this month again urged people to get vaccinated.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to have full capacity in the stadium,” he said. “I’m hopeful that more and more people will get vaccinated so they’ll have the opportunity to do that. But that’s everybody’s personal choice.”