A recent survey by the Alabama Hospital Association found that 94 percent of Alabamians hospitalized with COVID-19 were not vaccinated against the deadly disease.
That stark fact was announced by the Alabama Department of Public Health in a statement Thursday, which also called for the public to help encourage others to get vaccinated through the newly launched “We Can Do This Alabama” campaign.
“The “We Can Do This Alabama” effort enlists Alabamians to become local champions and share information with their family, friends, colleagues, and community on the importance of getting vaccinated,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said in the statement. “Participants in this grassroots effort are asked to go to https://www.wecandothisalabama.com/ to register as a local champion to access helpful messaging resources.”
Those participating in the campaign are asked to encourage three new people each week to get vaccinated, for four weeks. They’re also challenged to recruit five additional people to serve as local champions.
“The material in the “We Can Do This Alabama” campaign toolkit notes that COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know its effects. Local champions disseminate clear, complete, and accurate messages about COVID-19 vaccines,” Harris said.
It wasn’t clear Thursday how many recent COVID-19 cases and deaths in Alabama are among those who weren’t vaccinated. While some states make that data available, the Alabama Department of Public Health currently does not.
“Vaccinations are currently tracked in a separate system than the case/death data,” said ADPH spokesman Ryan Easterling in a response to APR on Thursday. “The department is testing out some new functionality in our surveillance system that will import vaccine data, but it is not in production yet. We hope to be adding this additional data soon.”
The nonprofit news website Maryland Matters reported on June 28 that since May 10, unvaccinated people account for 97 percent of the COVID-19 cases, 89 percent of hospitalizations and 89 percent of the deaths.
The Associated Press’s recent review of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths across the U.S. are among the unvaccinated.
“Data from May shows that “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1 percent,” The AP reported. “And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8 percent or five deaths per day on average.”
While Maryland health officials remain concerned over the 1.4 million Marylanders over the age of 12 who aren’t vaccinated, the state overall has a vaccination rate of 72 percent, the news outlet reported.
Alabama’s vaccination rate remains the second-lowest in the nation, at 32 percent, according to The New York Times vaccination tracking project.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at UAB, recently warned the public of the delta variant of COVID-19, which she said is thought to be between 50 and 90 percent more contagious, and can be caught after as little as 10 seconds of exposure to someone who has it.
“All Alabamians have an opportunity to be champions by presenting the facts about COVID-19 vaccines to their own circle of family, friends, acquaintances, and others outside their sphere who are hesitant to be vaccinated,” Harris said. “By motivating reluctant people to be vaccinated, they are helping prevent the spread of the virus that has taken the lives of more than 11,000 state residents.”