Health officials express concern over masking policies

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask, unless they are in certain places.

In Madison county only 37.49% of residents are fully vaccinated, that’s only 113, 042 according to Bama Tracker as of 6:20pm this evening. Judy Smith, the North Alabama Administrator with the Alabama Department of Public Health says she would like to see that vaccination rate in the 70 and 80% range.

“Obviously you know if we had our ideal goal we would have 100% of people vaccinated but that’s not always going to work,” Smith told News 19.

Just over 27 percent of Alabamians are fully vaccinated. But if you went out over the weekend, it may have seemed more than that have already ditched their masks in public. And many health officials say it’s a little too soon to drop masks.

“I agree with caution, especially in the state of Alabama, because we do not have as highly vaccinated a population as possible,” said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health. “I also agree that we must remind people that they have to take the mitigation standards if vaccinated.”

Landers said the latest CDC guidelines are clear: If you’re fully vaccinated, you can stop wearing a mask in certain public places. But if you’re not, keep your face covered until you get the shot.

“If you’re out, even if you’ve been vaccinated and you’re out and you’re in a crowd where there is the potential to be exposed you know take the precautions you need to take,” Smith said.

The CDC’s website still lists health care facilities, public transportation and correctional facilities as just some of the places you still must mask. Landers said that’s because they’re where you’ll find more at-risk people, as well as people who will need to be in good health in case of another wave.

“We still have to remember that our health care providers are a vital part of our infrastructure, and they absolutely have to be protected and have to be functional to carry out their activities,” Landers said.

ADPH would like to see 60 to 80 percent of Alabamians vaccinated before encouraging no masks for everyone. Smith says for those who aren’t fully vaccinated to remember the risk they run going out without a mask.

“Is it totally deleted, no it’s not. But it’s markedly diminished to the point that they can continue with normal activities in a much more safe environment than folks that are not vaccinated,” Smith adds that the Alabamians a good people and have a responsibility to their loved ones and those around them.

“We are a great state and with great people who can do the right thing, please get vaccinated and we’ll certainly make the upcoming year less painful than this past year was,” Smith said.

Landers said her main concern is for people who don’t wear masks and are not vaccinated, because they’re still at risk of getting the disease and spreading it to others.

Smith said we are still fighting against this virus and not everyone is fortunate enough to get vaccinated because of medical issues and the best way for you to help in the fight. Continue to mask up or to get fully vaccinated.

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