Alabama Doc Horrified That No One's Lining Up for Vaccine as State Has Lowest Vaxx Rate

Alabama's vaccination rate is the worst in the U.S. and seems poised to stay that way, even as more infectious new COVID-19 variants wreak havoc on parts of the country. This continued hesitancy is now beginning to take its toll on the state's health professionals.

Speaking with AL.com, the University of Alabama at Birmingham's (UAB) Dr. Michael Saag called the state's vaccine struggles one of the biggest frustrations he has ever faced.

"For me personally, I've never been as frustrated professionally as I am right now," Saag, a professor of medicine at UAB's Division of Infectious Diseases, said. "I had hoped and prayed for a successful vaccine and was frankly surprised when the vaccine showed its efficacy to the degree that it is and its safety. And I thought, my goodness, there's a Christmas miracle if we've ever seen one in our lifetime. It actually happened."

According to the Mayo Clinic, only a little over one-third of Alabama's 4.7 million residents have been fully vaccinated. The numbers for residents with at least one dose aren't much better, at 38.3-percent.

Alabama is among mostly conservative-leaning states that are struggling with vaccine hesitancy; Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming are also within the 30-percent range for one-dose vaccination. However, Alabama remains the only state in that range for full vaccinations.

"And to my surprise and horror, people are not lining up to get the vaccine that's offered to them free and that works extraordinarily well," Saag said. "People are choosing to remain in harm's way, but worse, when they get infected, they put people who are vaccinated at risk, at least those who are immunocompromised who could get very sick from this."

After months of supporting the right to vaccine hesitancy, if not outright endorsing it, conservative politicians in the U.S. have begun pushing for their constituents to get vaccinated, as the threat of another lockdown looms.

Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey said on Thursday that unvaccinated people are to blame for recent surges in COVID-19.

"Let's be crystal clear about this issue," Ivey said. "The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain."

In response to this change, President Joe Biden said: "A lot of our very conservative friends have finally had an altar call, They've seen the Lord. Whether it's on Fox News or whether it's the most conservative commentators or governors."

Newsweek reached out to Ivey's office for a comment on the state's vaccination rate but has yet to hear back. This story will be updated when and if Newsweek receives a response.

Updated 11:41 AM ET.

Alabama doctor laments vaccination hesitancy
Speaking with AL.com, the University of Alabama at Birmingham's (UAB) Dr. Michael Saag called the state's vaccine struggles one of the biggest frustrations he has ever faced. Volunteers and staffers knock on a door during an outreach effort to inform residents about an upcoming COVID-19 vaccination event, on June 30, 2021, in Birmingham, Alabama.. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images