MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — With Alabama trailing most of the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations, National Guard troops will begin work later this month administering doses in at least 24 rural counties, the state said Tuesday.
The Alabama National Guard, with two 55-member mobile vaccination teams that can provide 8,000 doses a week in all, will work with public health and local officials to determine exact sites and logistics, Gov. Kay Ivey's office said in a statement. Guard immunizations will start March 23.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 15.2% of Alabama's 4.9 million residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine that protects against the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That was lower than any state other than neighboring Georgia, where 13.4% had gotten at least one shot.
Guard teams will rotate through counties to provide shots to more people, the statement said. Ivey asked for patience since the state is still trying to get more vaccine from the federal government.
"Folks, we can have hope, because, finally, we can see the end of COVID-19,” she said.
State statistics show more than 703,000 people have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, and about 410,000 have completed their immunizations. Cases have fallen dramatically since mid-January, when illness reached a high point after the holidays. While about 470 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, the number is the fewest since late May.
More than 500,600 people have tested positive for the virus statewide, and more than 10,100 have died. While the virus causes only mild to moderate symptoms for most people, it can be particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other, serious health issues.