Despite weather, limited supplies, Alabama vaccinations ongoing

Joan Handelsman receives the the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.
Joan Handelsman receives the the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.(Lynne Sladky | AP)
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 10:14 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health reiterated Tuesday that getting COVID-19 vaccines into residents’ arms as fast as possible continues to be its goal, but limited supplies continue to be both Alabama’s and the nation’s greatest challenge.

ADPH also acknowledged that there is a possibility that some second doses could be delayed due to the wintry weather. With that in mind, the CDC says the second dose of Pfizer Moderna vaccines can be given up to six weeks after the first dose and health officials assured they will give those second doses in time, even if it means extending some clinic hours.

The state’s first dose shipment of vaccine continues to average between 60,000 and 70,000 doses per week. To date, 982,000 doses have been shipped to Alabama. Of those, just under 650,000 doses, or about 66 percent, have been administered to those in need.

Many of those shots were administered during last week’s eight mass vaccination clinics held across the state in which more than 70,000 people got their first doses. Those people will return in March for their second dose.

ADPH has enrolled nearly 1,100 healthcare providers to assist with vaccinating the public, but many of those providers still have not received a shipment of doses.

Meanwhile, many Alabama locations of Walmart and Sam’s Club retailers are also offering vaccinations thanks to a federal program that does not draw from the state’s weekly allocation of doses.

The state has qualified more than 1 million people as eligible for vaccination so far. The last expansion happened on Feb. 8 when ADPH moved to Phase 1b and reduced the minimum age of eligible recipients from 75 to 65.

Those now eligible include persons age 65 and above as well as those who meet the following criteria:

  • Healthcare workers
  • First responders including EMS, firefighters and law enforcement
  • Frontline essential workers as follows: Corrections officers, Food and agriculture workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, Manufacturing workers, Grocery store workers, Public transit workers, People who work in the education sector, Childcare workers, and the Judiciary
  • Work or live in congregate settings

Due to the limited number of doses and the high demand, ADPH is asking those who meet the above qualifications but who are not at high-risk to wait and let others get their vaccinations first.

Many of Alabama’s 67 county health departments are no longer offering first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, ADPH officials said. Those facilities are currently giving only second doses to those who are at highest risk and whose shots were already scheduled.

To date, Alabama has reported 482,488 COVID-19 cases, 9,257 COVID-19 deaths and 44,342 COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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