Vaccine scarcity limits dispersal in Alabama Healthcare workers say vaccine is safe and urge everyone to take it

Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters

All healthcare workers we have seen and spoken with urge everyone to take the coronavirus vaccine because it is safe and effective.
We have the pictures of two healthcare workers from Greene County: Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson, who is a nurse and received her shot yesterday at Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis where she works and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters, a pediatrician in Lake Charles, Louisiana, daughter of the publishers, who grew up in Greene County and graduated from Eutaw High School as valedictorian in 1987, also received the shot this week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, head of NIH, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice- President Mike Pence have all been seen taking the shot on television in recent days. They have all urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as the precious vaccine reaches them.
In a press release today, Dr. Scott Harris, of the Alabama Department of Public Health warns, “The overriding issue at present is the scarcity of vaccine. We realize that there are many people at increased risk of exposure to the virus who are not yet able to receive immunization. As the supply of vaccine remains limited, we continue to urge the public to practice the measures needed to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”
The ADPH says, “We are in the first phase of vaccination, Phase 1a, the critical infrastructure workforce is identified as frontline health workers, including clinical and nonclinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes or those providing in-home or mental health care directly, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers. Various phase levels are based on risk exposure, and Alabama is currently in Phase 1a. The population that falls into this first phase is more than 300,000 Alabamians, but thus far we have received an allocation only 84,300 of the Moderna vaccine.” The State also received an initial allocation of 29,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage conditions.
During the Phase 1a. vaccination period, the administering hospital is required to use 50 percent for hospital healthcare workers, 15 percent for EMS providers, 15 percent for physician offices, and 20 percent for other hospital staff/healthcare workers not associated with the point of distribution. Residents of long-term care will be vaccinated through the Federal Pharmacy Program in cooperation with large chain pharmacies.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System, told the GCHS Board of Directors in its recent meeting, that she has participated in zoom meetings and conference calls with the ADPH and the Alabama Hospital Association and GCHS will soon get doses of the Moderna vaccine for hospital workers and local health care and EMS workers in Greene County. No definite date has yet been given for when the vaccine will get to Greene County.
“Once the vaccine gets to Greene County, we will have to educate people on the importance of taking it when their time comes to take it,” said Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson. “Many Black people are skeptical about the vaccine because of the Tuskegee project in the 1930’s and 40’s and the treatment of Black people as guinea pigs for Federal health experiments,” she said.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, an African American, also urged Black people to get vaccinated. Baker praised Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth, one of the world’s leading immunologists and an African American who sat on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s panel that approved the rollout of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
“There was an African American doctor that was in charge of the vaccine,” Baker said during a video call. “I felt more comfortable that he and other African Americans were on the boards to come up with the vaccine. And he guaranteed that it wouldn’t be another Tuskegee kind of experiment. And he urged Black Americans to use the vaccine.”
Because of the Tuskegee experiment, the notorious 40-year study that began in 1932, where U.S. Public Health officials misled African Americans about their health status. The study’s participants were infected with syphilis, and health officials withheld treatment like penicillin, leaving some to die.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease physician, also championed the work of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American scientist, whom Dr. Fauci said was at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.
“So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact,” Dr. Fauci remarked.
More than 300,000 Americans have died, and nearly 17 million have contracted the coronavirus. Some reports indicate that as many as 25 percent of COVID-19 victims are African American. However, that hasn’t stopped the skepticism about the vaccine among many Black people.
Alabama residents should exercise caution by postponing travel and avoiding gatherings during the holidays.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
·  Social distance by staying 6 feet away from others
·Avoid people who are sick
·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
Once additional quantities of vaccine are available, ADPH will provide information about how the public can go about getting vaccinated.
For additional information, go to https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/prevention.html