Local pharmacies working to fight COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Alabama pharmacy
Posted at 12:48 PM, May 21, 2021

If there has been a passenger with us on the long road through this COVID-19 pandemic, it's been uncertainty. But when we feel lost, finding a place that’s familiar can help us move forward.

“I think people in most communities look at their local community pharmacy and say, ‘This is someone I can trust,’" said pharmacist Johnny Brooklere.

In Adamsville, Alabama, a lot of people listen to what Brooklere has to say.

As the local pharmacist and owner of Brooklere Pharmacy, he says people turn to him to get a straight answer.

His pharmacy was one of the first to offer the COVID-19 vaccine in Alabama.

“The demand, initially, was crazy. Our phones never stopped. We couldn’t answer the phone fast enough," he recalled.

He says at one point they were giving out as many as 200 vaccines a day, but now, it’s just about a quarter of that.

"Demand has gone from night and day. We couldn’t answer the phones fast enough, and now, it’s just a trickle," Brooklere said.

Nationally, close to 60 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But in each part of America, the story is different.

At least half of adults in several states have received at least one dose, but that’s not the case here. Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

“As far as Alabama at this point, it’s just that misinformation of safety, efficacy, side effects," Brooklere explained.

Vaccine hesitancy and demand aren’t just problems in the South. Since April, even though the number of Americans eligible to receive the vaccine has become larger, the number of doses administered each day has dropped off nationwide.

“There’s a few that go, ‘Ehhh, I’m not sure,’" said resident Regina Cowart.

Cowart has heard the hesitancy holding some people back.

“I have some kinfolks that aren’t sure about it," she said.

Cowart is confident in the medicine's promise of protection.

“Who wants to die? I don’t," Cowart said.

She and her son received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine at Brooklere Pharmacy.

“We have to face this today," Cowart said. "This is what we are dealing with. People are dying, people are continuing to get sick. There are variants where we don’t know what’s happening, so you have to protect yourself when you can.”

It’s unclear how long it will take to get to our destination beyond the pandemic, and while some may feel uncertain about the direction this vaccine will take us, Brooklere says he has trust in it.

"We think the vaccine is safe. The information we’ve seen has been out for so many months, the side effects we know, that sort of thing. We encourage them, but obviously, making sure it’s their decision in terms of what they do," Brooklere said.

Brooklere says it’s important to keep faith in what you trust, like a pharmacy you know, to get you to the right place.

“We stay out of the politics. We want the truth, and that's all we’re going to give you. You make your decision, and we’ll give you the information we have that we know is clinically sound," Brooklere said.