State health officer gives update on Alabama’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Nearly 600,000 Alabamians received 1 vaccine dose

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris provided updates Friday morning on the state’s COVID-19 efforts as multiple mass clinics were wrapping up a week of vaccinations.

Harris said the state is now receiving upwards of 70,000 doses a week, a small uptick over the last month. He added that mass vaccination clinics across the state have been extremely successfully this week with tens of thousands of people having gotten a shot. That includes about 8,000 in the Montgomery area.

Health department vaccine appointments, meanwhile, are booked through April.

Harris added that if Johnson & Johnson is given the green light by federal regulators for its vaccine, Alabama could receive doses by late February or early March. Harris believes this vaccine will work very well for Alabama because it’s one dose and doesn’t require rigorous cold chain requirements.

More than 1.1 million Alabamians are currently eligible for vaccines. Nearly half a million have received one dose, while about 125,000 have received both shots.

Despite a significant surge in vaccinations, though, it could be some time before additional people are eligible as part of Phase 1c, which includes those with chronic conditions and additional frontline workforces.

The state will consider rolling out the next phase when the vaccine uptake begins to lag across the state.

While the statewide vaccine clinics are wrapping up Friday, Walmart and Sam’s are starting to provide vaccinations shots to the eligible public Friday. Harris gave details on the Federal Retail Pharmacy program last week. The program gives the state a direct allocation from the federal government that won’t take away from the state’s weekly allocation.

There will be 1,480 doses coming to Alabama through the Federal Retail Pharmacy program. That extrapolates out to about 200 doses per week for each participating pharmacy.

CDC guidelines indicate that a person doesn’t need to quarantine if a vaccinated person has been exposed if they’ve met three criteria. Those include if more than two weeks have passed since the second shot, if no symptoms are present, and if it’s been less than three months since second shot.

Harris said the third criteria could likely change because the duration of immunity is not known.

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