2 million more Alabamians to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination

Alabama to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility by 2 million people

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced Friday that the state is preparing to expand to the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility.

Starting on March 22, ADPH will open eligibility to everyone included in Phase 1c, every resident who is over the age of 55, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Additionally, ADPH said groups to be included for extended eligibility are those age 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions which include but are not limited to the following conditions:

Cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state, solid organ transplant, obesity/BMI greater than 30, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, diabetes (both types), and other medical conditions determined by a medical provider

ADPH said it will also extend eligibility to critical workers in the following areas who were not recommended for vaccination in Phase 1b. Those include:

Transportation and logistics, waste and wastewater, food service (includes restaurant staff), shelter and housing (construction), finance (bank tellers), information technology and communication, energy, legal, media, and public safety (engineers).

Harris said the expansion will make another 2 million people in Alabama eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. That means about two-thirds of the state’s residents will qualify for vaccination at that point.

Even as eligibility expands, Harris said that doesn’t mean there are enough vaccine doses available yet for those who want it. He said the state’s weekly dose allotment continues to grow as the three drug manufactures (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) ramp up production.

For the next week, Harris expects the state to get around 110,000 to 120,000 doses, with most of the increase coming from greater output by Pfizer.

Alabama could get around 5,800 doses of J&J’s one shot dose in the next week. There wasn’t an expectation the state would get a second shipment in March.

The state is also preparing to deploy Alabama National Guard teams to at least two dozen rural counties to set up clinics, and ADPH is planning more large scale vaccination clinics around the state for the end of the month.

“Alabama is expanding its guidance to accelerate access to the safe and effective vaccines now available in our state,” Harris said. “While authorized vaccines roll out and more people are vaccinated, everyone needs to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing to protect their loved ones and the many vulnerable people in the state.”

To date, Alabama has administered 1,214,816 shots, meaning at least 760,000 people have gotten at least one vaccine dose. This milestone comes as Alabama reaches the first anniversary Saturday of the first confirmed case of the pandemic in its borders.

Alabama has seen more than 500,000 cases of COVID-19 infections and more than 10,000 pandemic deaths in the last year.

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