Get Vaccinated for COVID-19

With the warm springtime weather and enjoyable activities such as Mother’s Day family gatherings, graduation exercises, cookouts, pool parties, and Memorial Day getaways being planned for the month of May, there is an important action item to add to the calendars of many Alabamians.

For those who have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccine, fewer excuses to procrastinate in getting vaccinated remain. The supply of COVID-19 vaccine is now more widely available for eligible adults, and outreach efforts across the state encourage vaccination. Vaccination sites are located in rural areas, urban locations, houses of worship, community centers, shopping centers, pharmacies, and other sites close to homes and workplaces. With more than 1 million Alabama residents already fully vaccinated, there is less demand, more open appointment times, and other convenient opportunities to be vaccinated, some without appointment.

Despite the increased availability of vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy remains a public health challenge as numerous people from different demographic groups are reluctant to be vaccinated due to fear, distrust, confusion, or just complacency. Misinformation is a problem. Three safe and effective vaccines are currently authorized for use in the United States and their use is strongly recommended. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but studies show that persons who are vaccinated and still contract disease have less severe illness and are unlikely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. The benefits far outweigh the possible side effects posed by vaccine.

People questioning safety and who are concerned about the possible side effects of the free vaccine may wish to look to their own healthcare provider for guidance. Surveys indicate that more than 90 percent of physicians have chosen to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and a person’s healthcare provider is generally the most trusted source of information and advice. This website at and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at has credible, reliable, and updated information as well.

Once vaccinated, it is still not time to let down your guard. Even for people who have been fully vaccinated, it takes the immune system a couple of weeks to build protection against the virus. The CDC recommends the following prevention methods, regardless of vaccination status:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you gather with unvaccinated people from more than one other household, or visit with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, or who lives with a person at increased risk.
  • Continue to watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested, and stay home and away from others. Follow guidance at your workplace.

As more is known, recommendations to prevent getting COVID-19 and transmitting it to others will continue to be made using the latest science. With the emergence of new and more highly transmissible COVID-19 variants, reaching the goal of population (herd) immunity is a race against time. Preliminary data as of late April indicated 6 COVID-19 variants had been identified in Alabama. The CDC cautions that even mild cases of COVID-19 fuel variants, which could lessen vaccine effectiveness.

The sooner most people are vaccinated, the faster Alabamians can return to their pre-pandemic lifestyle. Keep your family and those who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 safe by getting vaccinated.

Scott Harris, M.D.
State Health Officer