WATCH: Alabama Department of Public Health provides COVID-19 vaccination update

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT/AP) — On Friday, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris held a COVID-19 vaccination briefing.

Dr. Harris provided an update on COVID-19 mitigation efforts in the state. Harris said 0.4% of new COVID-19 cases in Alabama are from breakthrough cases, with only 26 deaths coming from fully vaccinated Alabamians. The rest are among the unvaccinated. According to Harris, it’s been three straight days of double-digit deaths in the state.

Dr. Harris expressed his concern for hospitalizations in the state. 93% of all ICU beds across Alabama are currently being taken up.

“It is really difficult to watch the people, who work in public health, who dedicate their whole lives to this for a year and a half and still have this threat hanging over us in the same way,” Harris said.

The state health officer answered a question regarding vaccine hesitancy, saying while he encourages the vaccine, his main concern is to get the correct information out to the masses.

“Our goal is not to blame people or shame people. Our goal is just to try to get people the best information we can,” Dr. Harris said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health does support universal masking in schools, but there is not a mask mandate currently in the state of Alabama. School bus masking requirements have been made by the federal government as they regulate the decisions behind COVID-19 recommendations.

When discussing the potential of herd immunity in the state, Dr. Harris says the number needed to reach it has not been determined due to the new variants of the virus.

“The goalposts keep moving when you get a different variant. When you get a more transmissible variant, the percentage you have to reach to get herd immunity is a whole lot higher than it was three months ago or six months ago with those variants we had then,” he said.

Harris said so far there have been about 6,400 known breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in Alabama among the 1.6 million people fully vaccinated, or about 0.4%.

Beginning on July 22, the number of daily vaccinations rose to more than 10,000 on most days for the first time since May. The state delivered 16,639 doses on July 30, compared to 7,144 on June 30.

The entire ADPH COVID-19 update will be available to watch shortly in the video player above.

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