The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. are safe and effective is the message from President Biden to encourage more people to take the vaccine.
“It’s just essential that everyone gets connected with vaccination,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, senior advisor for the president’s COVID-19 response team. “That’s how we’re going to get to our new normal. That’s how we’re going to be able to reopen schools … reunite with our families, reopen our businesses, get our economy going again, and to be able to gather together.”
Clinics and hospitals in Alabama have administered the two-shot vaccines from drug companies Pfizer and Moderna since December. The distribution of a one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson began this month.
Alabama has been consistently near the bottom among states for vaccines administered per capita.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported more than 1.3 million doses have been given indicating nearly 17% of residents have received at least one shot. The number of people completing a vaccination course was not available as of Thursday, March 18.
“The reality is people you know have been vaccinated,” Nunez-Smith said.
She said there will be enough supply for every American who wants a shot by the end of May. Officials are working to reduce barriers to vaccinations in both federal programs and state efforts. That includes placing clinics closer to where people live. Work is also underway on a White House-backed website and an 800 number to locate vaccination sites.
“We’ve made sure the vaccination is free of charge, no out of pocket cost for anyone. We’re making sure that vaccination venues are convenient,” Nunez-Smith said.
A recent NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll found a majority of adults want to be vaccinated. Some have suggested vaccine hesitancy has kept some Blacks from taking the shot because of historic mistreatment and discrimination by the medical system. But this poll showed Blacks most eager for a vaccine with only 25% saying they didn’t want one.
In fact, the poll found 49% of Republican men and 47% of Trump supporters, of which there are many in Alabama, would not take a vaccine. Nunez-Smith said the administration is trying to find trusted voices that can reach all groups.
“We know that we need every single American to get vaccinated and there is so much promise and hope on the other side of that.”