Health leaders: Low vaccinations could lead to new variants

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Vaccinations are up in Alabama but our overall rate remains one of the lowest in the country. Some doctors fear that could give rise to a new variant.

It’s something that we don’t want to think about, but if things don’t improve, doctors say it’s not if but when a new variant emerges, it could threaten the vaccinated.

“It’s not a chance. It’s a certainty. We know what viruses do. We work so hard to try to prevent them with things like vaccination because once they have the chance to spread in communities between people, they are mutating and changing all the time,” Dr. Jodie Dionne with UAB said.

UAB infectious disease expert Dr. Jodie Dionne believes if vaccination rates don’t improve in Alabama and around the country, it could give rise to new variants that could threaten the effectiveness of the current vaccines.

“This virus is smart. It will continue to change. We have to do smart things if we want to keep our families and ourselves healthy. A lot of this doesn’t need to be complicated,” Dionne said.

Because of the current COVID surge, hospitals are filling up around the country. It’s especially dire in Louisiana. That state is dealing with a record number of COVID hospitalizations and cases.

“I have more than I can say grace over here in Louisiana,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Governor John Bel Edwards appeared on CNN this week, pleading with residents to get vaccinated and wear face masks. States bordering Louisiana like Alabama are seeing high levels of COVID community transmission. Edwards was asked if he feels other states should implement mask mandates like Louisiana.

“I don’t really comment about what other states are doing. I will tell you we have a mask mandate in place because all of the medical professionals here in Louisiana tell me its absolutely essential to curb transmission, to reduce the demand on the hospital, not just for COVID patients but for all patients,” Edwards said.

Even though Governor Ivey issued a limited, narrowly focused state of emergency to support frontline healthcare workers, she says a mask mandate will not happen and added Alabama remains open for business.

Despite this, health leaders are urging universal masking when you are in public indoors.

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