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More work is needed for rural vaccine effort

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Alabama's state health officer says he is optimistic about improving COVID-19 case numbers.

Dr. Scott Harris told reporters that the state is seeing improvements but urged people to maintain precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds. Dr. Harris said the vaccine is getting out, but he would like to see more making its way to the rural areas. 

“There are a lot of places we need to send vaccines that are never going to be quick, fast, efficient ways of getting out vaccine. There are rural areas of the state that have low volume providers and yet its important we reach those communities as well. We certainly are trying to balance giving things out as quickly as possible,” he said. 

There have been several efforts across the state to vaccinate as many people as possible at mass vaccination sites. Harris said while this helps, they are not able to reach those in the rural areas of the state. 

“I think when you have large mass clinics you don’t necessarily meet all of your equity goals. Your large mass clinics are for people that have a car a lot of time off and have a computer that can find where the clinic is and that doesn’t apply to everyone in Alabama,” he said.  

Harris said hospitalizations, daily new cases and the percent of positive tests have fallen to levels the state saw last fall or summer. The end of large holiday gatherings is likely a factor. Alabama set a record for deaths in January. 

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