The Medical Association of the State of Alabama on Thursday called on the federal government to speed up COVID-19 booster shots to health care workers in Gulf Coast states, which have been inundated with cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr. Aruna Arora, President of the Medical Association, and other Alabama health care leaders were to meet with White House Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair on Thursday to discuss increasing vaccine confidence, according to a press release from the association.
U.S. health officials announced yesterday plans to offer booster shots to all eligible people eight months after their second vaccine shots.
“Much of our health care workforce received their second vaccine dose in January. We are asking the federal government to reconsider its plan and give Gulf Coast states those booster shots now rather than needlessly wait,” Arora said in a statement. “These hard-hit states are most at risk for medical care staffing shortages, which we are already beginning to see. Waiting unnecessarily simply puts all patients at greater risk, whether they have COVID or not. Patients cannot afford to lose our health care workforce during this time of greatest need when even normal illnesses that cause medical staff to miss work will contribute to staff shortages.”
Alabama on Wednesday had 29 more patients in need of ICU beds than the state had beds. Hospitals have been taken space in other areas to create ICU beds, but the emergency practice has limitations, largely around limited staffing to operate those growing beds.
Mobile has seen surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and deaths, which are a lagging indicator of the spread of the virus, have begun to increase as well.
Dr. Rendi Murphree with the Mobile County Health Department said during a Tuesday briefing that a county funeral home called the health department on Monday “concerned that they had 17 decedents on site that they were working on, with five more on the way.”
“We are talking again about getting refrigerated trailers and making sure we have enough bags to store decedents appropriately, but this is stacking up our entire healthcare system,” Murphree said.