ADPH’s Dr. Scott Harris urges lawmakers to address COVID vaccine questions directly to the agency, not through the media
Last week, four state senators criticized the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it a “kink” in the pipeline.
In a release provided to the media, State Sens. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Randy Price (R-Opelika) warned shortcomings in vaccine distribution was coming at the cost of lives.
During an appearance on this week’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said while he welcomed hearing from the lawmakers, he would have preferred to have heard from them directly and not through the media. He also insisted the answer to their questions was available on the ADPH’s dashboard website.
“We always appreciate hearing from legislators or anyone that has concerns about that,” Harris said. “We’re very happy to respond to that and get the correct information out. The gist of the letter, which was not sent to us. It was actually sent to the media. But the gist of the letter was that somehow Alabama has a kink in the supply of its vaccines, and we’re not giving enough vaccines because vaccines aren’t being given quickly enough. And I would say, first of all, we certainly acknowledge we want to give vaccines as quickly as possible, but that’s actually an incorrect understanding of how the vaccine distribution works. Vaccines in the U.S. are distributed according to population to each state. Whether we give vaccines quickly or slowly — it does not determine what our supply is. We get around 50, to 60,000 doses per week because that’s Alabama’s share by population of the total amount being manufactured.”
“There were some questions in the letter about why certain data wasn’t available, which actually is available,” he continued. “I wish we had an opportunity to answer those questions before those questions were sent to the media. But we do post on our dashboard every day updated daily total number of doses that are shipped in Alabama and how many have been given. We have that broken down by date for anyone to see. And so, I think there are legitimate questions about could we be doing this faster, and the answer is we’re doing everything we can to do be doing it faster. But I wish we had a chance to respond to that letter before everyone in the state was asking us about it.”
McClendon, the chairman of the Alabama Senate’s Health Committee, responded to Harris’ remarks on “Capitol Journal” with a pledge to file legislation that would give the executive and legislative branches oversight authority over the ADPH via text to Yellowhammer News on Sunday.
“Neither the legislative branch nor the executive branch have any authority over the ADPH or the State Public Health Officer,” McClendon wrote. “The bill I have prepared and ready to file corrects that. I’ll file it once everyone that wants to co-sponsor has an opportunity.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.