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Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines in Alabama expanding to all citizens 55+, anyone with a comorbidity

Additional categories of Alabamians will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 22, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Friday.

Every citizen over age 55 will be eligible, as will people with a number of underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Additionally, a number of employees in several field fields are becoming eligible.

“This is probably going to double the number of eligible people,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, said at a televised briefing on Friday.

ADPH provided a list of the medical conditions that will make an individual eligible for the vaccine:

  • People with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • 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
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Other medical conditions as determined by your medical provider

“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,” warned Harris.

ADPH also listed the professions that will be granted eligibility:

  • 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
  • Public safety (engineers)

“We still don’t have enough to go around,” cautioned Harris, who said the number of people made eligible by the expansion will be over two million.

“We have been concerned that many people at high risk and others engaged in close contact work have not been eligible to receive the vaccine yet, but with the additional vaccine supply we are better able to meet the needs of Alabama residents,” said Governor Kay Ivey in a Friday statement.

“Starting March 22, individuals can be assured of receiving the shots they have been patiently waiting to get,” she added.

The only remaining expansion in the Yellowhammer State, after the one announced for March 22, will be to make every Alabamian eligible.

President Joe Biden in a speech on Thursday urged states to expand eligibility to all citizens by May 1. Alabama’s Dr. Scott Harris said Friday his state will do everything in its power to hit that deadline.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.