Alabama Reports 32 Percent of Hospitalized Patients Have COVID Vaccine Amid Record Surge

Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson said Monday that approximately 32 percent of hospitalized patients have been vaccinated for COVID amid the record surge.

On Monday, over 1,100 patients were in state hospitals with COVID. However, this figure is below the 3,000 people hospitalized during the peak of earlier surges of COVID.

Williamson said he had no knowledge of the numbers on what percentage of vaccinated patients received booster shots.

Out of Alabama's population, less than 48 percent have been fully vaccinated, meaning the state has one of the country's lowest rates.

On Tuesday, Alabama's State Health Officer Scott Harris said that the Omicron variant is surging through the state.

"We are unfortunately not in a real good place right now. We are seeing the highest daily case numbers we have seen since the pandemic began," Harris said during a briefing with reporters.

"It is just spreading like wildfire," Harris said, noting that, "Omicron will infect a very large number of people in Alabama before it finally subsides."

Harris urged people to get vaccinated and boosted "when it's appropriate to do so," saying it is "the single most important thing they can do."

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state reported over 8,000 COVID cases a day on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, setting a new record for daily cases. The average positive test rate also reached a new high of 38.5 percent Tuesday.

Alabama, Hospitalized Vaccinators, Omicron Surge,
Less than 48 percent of Alabamans have been fully vaccinated against COVID, which marks one of the lowest rates among U.S. states. Above, the Moderna vaccine awaits administration at a clinic in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 15, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

While early research suggests Omicron causes less severe disease than earlier variants such as Delta, Harris cautioned that some will still get severely ill and the high infection rates means significant numbers could end up in state hospitals.

"We had 41 people die yesterday. We don't have that with the flu. We don't have that with common colds. It's just not the same thing," Harris said.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks from 831.71 new cases a day on Dec. 19 to 6,139.43 new cases a day on Sunday. The state ranks 29th in the country for new cases per capita.

With more than 16,450 dead of the illness, Alabama has the nation's third-highest death rate from COVID-19, Johns Hopkins found.

Many Alabama students returned to K-12 classrooms this week, although some systems opted for temporary remote learning. The state Department of Public Health recommends students and educators wear masks, guidance that has remained unchanged.

The University of Alabama announced this week that people will be required to wear masks in most campus settings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.