With rising cases, experts in Alabama urge healthcare workers to get vaccinated


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Alabama, health experts are concerned about the number of hospital workers who aren’t vaccinated against the virus.

According to Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association, the vaccine rates vary from hospital to hospital. He says some hospitals have around 80% of their workers vaccinated, and some have around 50%. He says if those numbers don’t improve anytime soon, things could become harder for Alabama’s hospital system.

“We are absolutely going to need health care workers on the front lines taking care of these patients for us to get through this,” Dr. Williamson said.

Not only are cases rising in the state, hospitalizations are increasing with hundreds of patients daily.

“It has exploded in a way with the Delta variant, I certainly never anticipated and I don’t think anybody else did,” Dr. Williamson said.

Like the public, Dr. Williamson says there is still hesitancy among hospital and healthcare workers when it comes to taking the vaccine. He fears with the current surge in cases, hospitals won’t be properly staffed to help patients.

“We would have hospitals that would have 200 workers out on a given day. Either because they have COVID or had been exposed,” Dr. Williamson said.

But hospitals aren’t the only ones concerned about the uptick in cases. John Matson with the Alabama Nursing Home Association says they’re nervous about the recent rise as well.

“When there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a community, there is usually an outbreak of COVID-19 in that community’s nursing home a week to three weeks later,” Matson said.

According to Matson, 50.32% of nursing home workers are vaccinated. More than 80% of residents are fully vaccinated. He says compared to neighboring states, Alabama’s nursing home workers have a better vaccination rate. While they have seen more get the shot, he says nationwide they are still short of their goal.

“We continue to talk to them about the importance of taking the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves as well as protect the ones they care for,” Matson said.

He says educating and having open conversations with those unvaccinated will help the situation improve.

“Often times, word of mouth advertising is always the most effective,” Matson said.

Because experts say everyone who can needs to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Get a vaccine for the people you love and it’s important to you that they not get sick and stay a vital part of your life,” Williamson said.

Dr. Williamson says according to new data, the Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against the Delta variant.

For more information about the vaccine, watch Dr. Williamson above.

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