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State health official asks teens to continue getting vaccinated


Alabama Health Official Scott Harris urged eligible adolescents to get vaccinated in a conference call on Friday.

Though more than 2 million Alabamians are fully vaccinated, key demographics remain unvaccinated. Teenagers are still the least vaccinated age group among eligible Alabamians. Less than 13% of residents aged 0 to 17 years old have received one or more vaccine doses. They represent less than 6% of total residents who have received any vaccine dose.

Harris said he hopes parents and children take the opportunity to protect themselves and others.

“That’s very unfortunate,” Harris said. “We continue to see numbers from kids who are infected and fortunately they tend to do well. But we certainly want to keep them from getting sick if possible. They certainly serve as sources for infection to other people as well.”

Large sectors of Alabama’s adult population also remain unvaccinated. Just under 40% of residents aged 18 to 49 years old represent all Alabamians who have received one or more vaccine doses.

Harris said he urges parents to consider not just their children’s vaccination status but their own as well.

“Those adolescents and teenagers, who are our least vaccinated group, the next least vaccinated group is the age group that contains the parents of those people,” Harris said. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence. You know, I think children are probably vaccinated sort of in keeping with whether or not their parents are vaccinated.”

However, Harris did recognize progress in the state’s lowering coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations. Over 10% of all coronavirus tests were positive as of October 8. This is a three-point decrease in weekly positive tests since late September. More than 1,000 in-patients remain hospitalized with coronavirus. This is less than two-thirds of the number of in-patients reported last month.

School-age children are also getting coronavirus at a lower rate, with only 1,911 K-12 cases reported as of October 8. Though the numbers are down this week, Harris said this could be due to many schools entering fall break as well as an incomplete dashboard update.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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