LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – A major milestone was observed by doctors at Athens-Limestone Hospital. December 15th marks one year since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered to physicians.
Medical providers were among the first people in Alabama to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the state.

“Most of us that were providing direct patient care back then, it was very important for us to get that vaccine the very first time we could get it, including myself,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, ADPH District Medical Officer.

Physicians in the state have watched demand for the vaccine wax and wane.

Dr. Stubblefield explained, “So, as people are getting sicker, and as I would imagine news stories are circulating, and maybe its people’s own family members are being sick that those, people have a higher demand for the vaccine.”

While demand for shots was high at first, the state has continued to have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, more than 5.2 million total doses of the vaccine have been administered in Alabama. 2.1 million Alabamians are fully vaccinated.

Stubblefield says the low vaccination rate is a combination of several factors including geography, transportation, hesitancy, complacency and COVID fatigue. He says the state health department is working to address those issues.

“Being transparent with our data, consistent messaging and availability are the things that we are focusing on,” he said.

There are areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are rising, and the Omicron variant has been identified in the southeast. Dr. Stubblefield’s message is to remain vigilant.

“Protect those who are most vulnerable, stay up to date on your shots with whatever you can get whether it’s your first dose to go ahead and get it now, so you’re protected for the holidays,” he stated.

He also urges people to get a flu shot if they haven’t done so yet.