COVID-19 campaign: Still work to be done

Published 7:48 pm Friday, April 23, 2021

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Rick Smith

With the loosening of Covid-19 vaccination criteria over the past several weeks, more and more Americans are taking advantage of the opportunity to get the vaccine. Locally, I shared last week that the Troy Regional team administered nearly 400 vaccines in Elba and Brundidge at drive in clinics, and here at the hospital and local businesses, we administered over 250 more. All that has led to over 1/2 of the adults in the United States receiving at least one vaccine. This is by far the nation’s largest vaccination campaign, but we still have work to do.

According to CDC sources, almost 130 million people 18 years or older have received at least one dose. That’s about 50.4 percent of the population. Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5 percent of the US population have been fully vaccinated. Alabama, at 37% vaccination rate, along with neighboring its neighboring states of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi, make up the bottom four states in the US for percentage of vaccinated individuals. As Alabamians, we can do better, we must do better to protect ourselves and those around us. More locally in Pike County, over 8,000 (30 percent) adults have received at least one dose. We have work to do!

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I’m often asked about my thoughts on wearing masks since Gov. Kay Ivey has rescinded the mandatory mask order. For me, it’s really simple. My blanket response to the question of whether you need to continue wearing a mask in our community is the same, even if you have been vaccinated. It’s not just for your safety, but our safety. Until we get guidelines saying it’s okay to stop, we will continue to follow the rules. I think this point is made clear by the number of “breakthrough cases”; cases that occur AFTER a person is fully vaccinated. That number in Alabama stands at 180-190 cases. Remember — it’s for your safety and ours. Don’t let your guard down. Stay safe.

Rick E. Smith chief executive officer of Troy Regional Medical Center.