Alabama governor and state's top health doctors get Pfizer vaccine
Just days before the Christmas holiday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was injected with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The governor was joined by Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer and Dr. Mary McIntyre, the State Chief Health Medical Officer. Both Harris and McIntyre were also injected.
The shots were administered to the trio of officials at Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery. Because the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses, the governor and Drs. McIntyre and Harris will have to follow up for a second jab in three weeks.
Although the governor and the state health bosses are early vaccine recipients, they are not the first Alabamians to receive the treatment. The state’s healthcare workers started receiving vaccinations during the second week of December.
When asked, during her vaccination visit, about the possibility of being seen as “skipping the line” ahead of other Alabamians who might need priority consideration for being vaccinated, Governor Ivey rejected the characterization.
“I’m not trying to step ahead of the line, I’m trying to save Alabamians. You can have confidence in this vaccine and its effectiveness. And I want to prove that by showing you that I’m willing to take it. So is Dr. Harris and so is Dr. McIntyre,” Ivey said.\
“I’m certainly glad to get a shot of the vaccine. I highly recommend it. And the more people who take it, the greater immunity we’ll have. The more we have, the better. We need a lot of immunity in our state.” she concluded.
Dr. Harris offered his support of the governor’s position and her decision to turn her vaccination into a photo opportunity.
“I sincerely appreciate the governor standing up and doing that,” said Harris. “I think that shows a tremendous amount of leadership. We need people to understand that we’re not just telling people to do it, we’re willing to do it ourselves. And I appreciate her doing that.”
“There’s been a lot of people that had a lot of uncertainty about the vaccine. There’s a lot of skepticism in some quarters. And, a whole lot of that are really legitimate, normal questions that people just need to have answered about, did we follow the normal safety protocols and did we do all the things that should be done. We believe that it is a safe and effective vaccine and we have analyzed as much as we can about the data and believe that it’s appropriate for people to use. And so we want to make a statement by getting that vaccine publicly.”
The state of Alabama already has a well-defined plan for vaccinating as many of its citizens as possible. In fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health has developed a two-phase vaccine allocation plan that prioritizes different groups for receipt of available vaccines. Frontline healthcare workers and other medical professionals who come into frequent contact with bodily fluids and aerosols are the first targeted recipients of the vaccine according to ADPH’s plan.
Recently, Former Alabama governor Robert Bentley was roundly criticized for receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ahead of frontline healthcare workers after he posted a photo of himself getting the shot to his twitter account. Bentley, 77, who ran the state for 6 years before ethics and infidelity scandals caused his resignation, is now working as a dermatologist at a private clinic. According to the standards set forth in ADPH’s vaccine allocation plan, the former governor does not meet the requirements to receive priority consideration for vaccination.
The dangers of COVID-19 have been especially concerning for Alabama's elected officials. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 76% of the state’s legislators were born between 1928 and 1964, placing a sizable number of them at risk for severe complications if infected with COVID-19. In early December, former state senator Larry Dixon succumbed to complications from coronavirus at the age of 78.
To date, Alabama has had 346,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,691 deaths. Numbers are anticipated to increase going into the new year. The Alabama Department of Health has advised all citizens to take simple precautions to help reduce transmission of COVID-19:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
· Social distance by staying 6 feet away from others.
· Stay home if you can; work remotely if possible.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others.
· Cover coughs and sneezes.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
· Monitor your health.