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Lawmakers disagree who is to blame for vaccine snafu

Senators point finger at state health officials; Dothan lawmaker said issues are not their fault.
Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:04 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -A few state senators are critical of how the Alabama Department of Public Health has handled coronavirus vaccines.

“Our (vaccine) pipeline in Alabama has a kink. The distribution of vaccines to Alabama will continue to be interrupted until Alabama plays by the rules,” said a letter penned by four lawmakers.

Senators Jim McClendon, Greg Albritton, Tom Whatley and Randy Price, all Republicans, released that letter on Tuesday.

“The CDC will not authorize shipments to Alabama until they know we are using what we have on hand. Our citizens are paying a deadly price,” the letter also states.

However, the chairman of the House Health Committee disagrees. Rep. Paul Lee said vaccines are being administered as quickly as possible but a limited supply is hindering the effort.

“We only have half of what we need,” said Lee, a Republican from Dothan.

He said there are almost 700,000 Alabamians due the vaccine immediately. That includes frontline healthcare workers, those over 75, first responders, and nursing homes.

Lee said Alabama has only received about 400,000 doses of vaccine and two doses are needed for each patient.

However, the four senators believe the issue is Alabama has been slow in administering vaccinations and also slow reporting those vaccines to the Centers for Disease Control.

“When CDC looks at our “inventory” we appear to have more doses than we can administer and with the high demand of vaccines nationally, doses are allocated to states who are reporting accurately,” the senators claim.

ADHP issued its own statement later Tuesday disputing that claim.

“The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to Alabama is based on our population and is not determined by how much vaccine is on hand in the state. The number of doses remaining from previous allocations does not affect the number of doses that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorizes for Alabama,” per that statement.

Lee said he understands frustration from those wanting the vaccine.

“People have been shut up (inside) and changed their lifestyle for a year and they want to return to normalcy,” he told WTVY.

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