Trump-loving Alabama County faces difficult vaccination efforts

Harryville, Alabama (AP) — In an almost white county in Alabama, Dwight Owensby, who has a long history of opposition to grain and tends to be a thrift shop with a faded Trump flag, said this against the COVID-19 vaccine. He is one of many skeptics in the area. ..

Owensby, 77, said he rarely watches TV news or reads local newspapers and spends less time talking to others about pandemics. .. However, he suspects that a coronavirus pandemic was planned to hold an unreliable conspiracy theory.

“If it’s time to go, I’ll go, otherwise I don’t care,” Owensby said.

He is not alone in Winston County, which ranks last in terms of fully vaccinated people in the states with the lowest vaccination rates, according to federal statistics. For many here, pandemics aren’t that much of a problem. Companies are open and relatively few people wear masks, even though Alabama’s regulations requiring public wear were not scheduled to end until Friday.

Winston County, the home of the union, which partly sought to leave Alabama for slavery during the Civil War, is a prime example of the problem health officials say must be overcome to end the pandemic. Not many white conservatives like Owensby. It is lined up fast enough for the vaccine.

Twenty-five percent of Americans who probably or will definitely not be vaccinated tend to be Republicans. According to polls From the Associated Press-NORC Public Relations and Research Center, and then President Donald Trump, accounted for 90% of the votes last year in Winston County, Alabama’s highest margin. The county has a population of about 23,700, 96% white, and many work in small manufacturing plants.

More than 2,700 people in Winston County were infected with COVID-19, placed in the middle of a state-wide pack, and 71 died of the disease. However, as of Thursday, only 7.3% of the county’s population, or about 1,730, were fully vaccinated. This is about one-third of Alabama’s major vaccination counties and is black and tends to vote for the Democratic Party.

As a Winston County Sheriff and publisher of the Northwest Alabamian, a local newspaper that has taken a close look at pandemics and vaccination efforts, Horace Moore has a unique perspective. While he and many of the paper workers were shot, Moore is unaware that one of the 33 staff members of the sheriff’s office shot one.

“I wish they got it, but I’m the only one,” he said.

Moore is confused by the reluctance to show that a poll commissioned by the State Department of Health in March was not unique to Winston County, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham. .. It turns out that about half of Alabama’s inhabitants were somewhat or very reluctant to get vaccinated.

Skepticism has crossed racial and ethnic boundaries in polls, but the pattern is clear: all counties with the lowest provincial immunization rates, large and small, both urban and rural, have a white population. , Trump carried everything except one with a wide margin in November. In contrast, the counties with the highest immunization rates are likely to have a large black population in favor of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The difference may reflect Trump’s repeated politics since the outbreak of the pandemic. Disregard the threat of viruses At least early on, Republican-led states are pushing harder to lift restrictions intended to delay mask orders and their spread.

State-funded public support and state soldier-run vaccine clinics have helped boost vaccination in most black areas of Alabama, but officials say shots are more dangerous than COVID-19. I’m trying to find a way to increase vaccination among white people in the thinking region. Killed more than 500,000 Americans.

“I think we’re having a little trouble with how to compose a message to reach that group. It’s not clear what the most effective strategy to reach them is,” Alabama said. Dr. Scott Harris, Head of the Public Health Service, said.

In Winston County, known as the “Free State of Winston” by anti-Confederate tendencies during the Civil War, some say vaccine supply is more of a problem than vaccine resistance. Lakeland Community Hospital in Haleyville said it has vaccinated more than 2,000 people and is waiting for additional doses.

“So far, our only hurdle was the availability of vaccines,” CEO Ashley Poole said in an email. Workers at the Wal-Mart store down the street from the hospital were vaccinated as soon as possible on Monday, the first day Alabama expanded its eligibility to all people over the age of 16.

Doctors at nearby Family Medical Associates often recommend vaccinations to patients, but demand is not universal, says office manager Vijaya Reddy. “Some people want to take it, others don’t,” she said.

The explanation applies to colleagues at rural convenience stores, Sharon Harris and Kristie Mobley.

Harris already had both shots and wasn’t nervous about getting either. “I was happy,” she said.

But Mobley is one of the creepiest people. Her fiancé was shot and helped others find vaccination appointments, and she knows people who had to use a ventilator after being infected with COVID-19, But Mobley is waiting. She wants to see if others are suffering from the long-term side effects of the vaccine.

“I’m just waiting and making sure you don’t grow a third eye or something,” she said.


The Associated Press writer Kim Chandler of Montgomery contributed to this report.

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