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Local effort works to stem COVID-19 vaccine reluctance in Alabama

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still lists Alabama as worst in the nation for vaccinating its population against COVID-19. However, a local “get a shot” recruitment drive appears to be getting results. Alabama health officials are working to counter problems that include reluctance in heavily Black areas where distrust of government medical initiatives runs deep. They targeted a few counties with a pro-vaccine message, especially in the “black belt.” That’s an old plantation region where a large percentage of the population is Black and many are poor. The campaign enlisted doctors and pastors and used virtual meetings and the radio to spread the word. Alabama’s assistance State health officer Dr. Karen Landers says the effort had positive results. For example, in Perry County, where 68% of the population is Black, more than 16% of the population is fully vaccinated. That’s among the highest levels in the State. Officials likely will make similar efforts for other parts of the state.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that nationally, 24% of Black Americans and 22% of Hispanic Americans say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated. That’s down from up to 41% in January. The race is on to vaccinate as many people as possible, but a significant number of Americans are so far reluctant to get the shots. In the latest poll, 36% of Republicans remained more likely than the 12% of Democrats to say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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