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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. – Businesses are opening back up and state health recommendations are being lessened.

Despite that, state health officials are reminding the nearly 3.7 million Alabamians who have yet to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus that it is still around.

Tuesday afternoon was busy at Shepherd’s Cove Hospice where workers hosted their second public COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

While more than 1.3 million Alabamians have gotten the vaccine, data shows some serious hesitancy.

“COVID does still occur in Alabama, it does still exist. Just yesterday, I had a person that I knew quite well come to me and tell me that they had a relative to die of COVID and this person really did not have a significant medical history or underlying problems,” said Alabama Department of Public Health area health officer Dr. Karen Landers. 

Shepherd’s Cove Hospice employees hope to protect their patients and the entire community through the clinic.

“When you’re dealing with a pandemic like this, there are no safe places. We all have to go to the grocery store, we have to go to Walmart. We may choose to go out to eat or to go to church, so even though those patients may be isolated at home, we have no control over what their family members are exposed to and what they may bring back to the home,” explained Shepherd’s Cove Hospice compliance director Mandy Chandler.

Landers tells News 19 there is no shortage of the vaccine, but there is a shortage of interest.

Less than 25% of DeKalb, Jackson, and Marshall County residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the ADPH data and surveillance website.

“People think, ‘I’ll let everybody else get it and I’ll be immune kind of through herd immunity. I think also because of the issues that were brought to light with the Johnson & Johnson that has caused people to be very hesitant, but we have administered over 200 doses and have not seen any significant adverse reactions,” said Chandler.

Landers says the state is nowhere close to what we need to be for so-called “herd immunity”.

“Right now, our overall percent positivity in the state for tests is about 4.5%, so that’s pretty ow, but in order to carry us through the summer and get us through the fall and winter, we need substantially higher rates of vaccinations. We still don’t have data on immunity after natural infection. so persons who have had COVID are not protected by their disease producing antibodies there.. they need to be vaccinated too,” added Landers.

Vaccinating the public is a personal mission for these Shepherd’s Cove Hospice workers.

They lost one of their own, Sharon Parker, to COVID-19 before the vaccinations were first available 

“She was one of our great nurses, heart full of compassion, cared deeply for her patients and loved her job,” said Shepherd’s Cove Hospice Chief Executive Officer Rhonda Osborne.

Osborne tells News 19 she believes this would be Parker’s message from beyond the grave:

“I believe she would be saying to everybody, do your part, get the vaccine, don’t depend on other people. do what you can for your health and your loved ones health.