Southern States Lagging Behind 40 Percent Vaccination Benchmark

people line up on a hall with a vaccine sign in the foreground.

Several states in the south, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, are below the 40 percent benchmark of vaccinated residents, the number officials believe will out pace the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.

“When you get to somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, I believe you’re going to start seeing real change, the start of a precipitous drop in cases,” The U.S. top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month, according to the report.

Fauci said he believes that percentage will lead to the out pacing of community spread as examples show in Israel.

While overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report some 62 percent of the nation’s adults have taken at least one dose of the three FDA approved vaccines, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, some states are lagging.

Those states average less than 35 percent of their populations covered by vaccinations, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

Using CDC numbers, the news organization said that the numbers are based on the reported number of doses administered compared to the number of doses required for fully vaccinating people in the state.

In addition to the Southern states, only Idaho and Wyoming, with much smaller populations are under the 35 percent mark.

Nineteen more populated states, especially in the Northeast, the hotbed of virus activity in 2020, have close to 50 percent vaccinated, according to the report.

The other 24 states are at the 40 percent, or slightly more, rate of vaccinated individuals.

Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey ended the state’s public health emergency order and has the state mostly open saying in her announcement that the pandemic is now “managed.”

“I believe in the science, believe that it works, and have confidence in it,” Ivey said in the Examiner’s story. “I have been fully vaccinated, and I will live like I have been fully vaccinated.”

The rate of distributing vaccines in that state remain extremely low, however, with just about 9,700 shots given out each day, according to Bloomberg.

The slow distribution rates are giving some health experts cause for concern, given the ability of the virus to mutate.

“The problem with delaying [the shots] is that viruses continue to mutate and create new strains, and eventually, this virus will create a strain that will be resistant to the vaccine. So, the longer we delay, the more space we allow for the virus to create that strain,” according to Dr. Thomas LaVeist, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in Louisiana.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.