Health officials urge covid vaccinations

Amy Henderson, The Cullman Times, Ala.
·3 min read

May 4—The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is asking all healthcare providers in the state to strongly recommend all age-eligible patients take the COVID-19 vaccine.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris noted that Alabama's percent positive SARS-CoV-2 tests statewide increased to 5.5 percent, which is higher than has been seen since March 6, 2021. Further, ADPH has seen a 1 percent increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, compared to the previous two weeks. In addition, while influenza-like illness had been low in Alabama this season, there has been an increase in influenza-like activity for the past three weeks in a row.

In Cullman County, more than 18,000 residents have received both doses of the vaccine. Cullman Regional Medical Center has administered more than 30,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and about 450 of the Moderna.

In April, CRMC moved its vaccination clinic from the Col. Cullmann Room at the hospital to the Urgent Care Center located at 1958 AL-Hwy 157. The hospital also launched an online scheduling tool to allow community members to self-schedule themselves for the COVID-19 vaccine. Patients can access the online form at CullmanVaccine.com. Patients must have an appointment to receive a vaccine. Information about additional vaccination locations is available on the ADPH website at alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19vaccine.

ADPH said it is committed to ensuring all age-eligible residents of Alabama have access to COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccine provides personal benefits to individuals. Vaccinated persons can resume many activities they stopped during the pandemic.

CRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Smith said the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the virus have been on the decline locally. "In February we started seeing a steady decline in COVID patients in the hospital and by March the 2nd we had five COVID patients in house with one on the ventilator in CCU. Since March 2 our COVID patient numbers have steadily fluctuated between 2 and 11 per day with one on the ventilator," he said.

The hospital has also had fewer patients referred for monoclonal antibodies — a treatment that has proven effective at preventing serious illness from the virus. Smith said they seeing two to three cases a day, compared to 25 cases per day previously.

Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, said, "During this past year, we have seen patients suffer with chronic long-term COVID symptoms. Hospitals and healthcare providers throughout Alabama have been under tremendous strain. We, as physicians, know that we can control this pandemic, but our patients must help us by getting vaccinated. Adequate vaccination is needed to have enough immune people and prevent an increase in variants which can lead to another surge. We all want to return to normalcy."

As of Monday, Cullman County has had only 72 positive covid tests in the past 14 weeks. Since March of last year 193 Cullman residents have died from COVID-19.