Trump-loving Alabama County faces difficult vaccination efforts

HALEYVILLE, Ara. – Dwight Owensby, who has a long history of opposition to grain and tends to be a thrift shop displaying a faded Trump flag in the nearly white Alabama county, is one of the region’s many skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine. is.

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 a union that sought to leave Alabama during the Civil War, is a prime example of a problem that health officials say must be overcome to end a pandemic. Many white conservatives like Owensby are not. It is lined up fast enough for the vaccine.

Associated Press-According to a poll by the National Poll Center, 25% of Americans who say they are likely or will never be vaccinated tend to be Republicans, then President Donald Trump. Last conducted 90% of the votes for the year in Winston County, which was his highest margin in Alabama. 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. Still, as of Thursday, only 7.3% of the county’s population, or about 1,730, were fully vaccinated. That’s about one-third of Alabama’s major vaccination counties, and blacks tend 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 vaccination rates are likely to have a large black population in favor of Democratic President Joe Biden.


The difference is that Trump repeatedly downplays the threat of the virus, at least early on, and more aggressively pushes Republican-led states to lift restrictions intended to slow mask orders and their spread. It may reflect the politicization since its outbreak.

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 go to 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.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Trump-loving Alabama County faces difficult vaccination efforts

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