Ivey urges patience as vaccine rollout picks up pace; State still compares poorly to others
Governor Kay Ivey is urging Alabamians to be patient with the rollout of their state’s coronavirus vaccination system. Her comments come as Alabama has received criticism for its slow process compared to other states, though the pace has increased in the last week.
Compared to other states and territories, Alabama has ranked at or near the bottom in terms of shots given per thousand people, and in terms of the percentage of doses in its possession that it has gotten into arms.
The pace of administration notably quickened in the last five days, rising from 87,138 total shots administered as of Monday to over 130,000 on Friday, meaning around 50% of the state’s shots given out have been administered in the workweek ending on January 15.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) dashboard on Friday afternoon, 130,394 doses of one of the two coronavirus vaccines have been given out of the 370,575 that have been delivered to the state.
“[State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris] and his team are continually working to more efficiently get this vaccine into the arms of Alabamians,” promised Ivey on Friday.
Since receiving its first doses in December, Alabama has focused on vaccinating health care workers and nursing home residents.
On Monday, January 18, eligibility to get the vaccine expands to any Alabamian aged 75 and over, along with first responders like police officers and firefighters.
ADPH announced earlier in the week that the hotline it created to handle appointment calls from people in the newly eligible categories was beingly regularly overwhelmed, and all slots to get a vaccine at county health departments have been filled through the end of January.
The agency said only eligible citizens, can still call the hotline and have their information added to a waiting list.
“Callers will be contacted as soon as more appointments are available,” relayed ADPH. The number for the hotline is 1-855-566-5333.
“I am thankful so many Alabamians are willing and ready to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Please continue to be patient as we are in the very early stages of distribution,” said Ivey on Friday.
The Anniston Star reported in recent days that an online web portal to schedule vaccine appointments is in the works, but still a ways off.
Both vaccine products approved for use, from medical companies Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses given three to four weeks apart before their effectiveness takes hold.
Alabama has roughly 326,000 health care workers and around 350,000 citizens aged 75 or above, according to ADPH. Recent estimates of the number of police officers and firefighters in the state were not readily available.
The federal government has currently allocated Alabama 640,150 doses of coronavirus vaccine.
“Our current supply remains limited, but we are committed to vaccinating as many Alabamians as possible. We will get shots in the arm and off the shelf. In the meantime, be patient, wear your mask and practice good common sense. Let’s get this thing behind us,” Ivey concluded.