vaccine sign

Siri Hedreen / The Outlook

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) will extend eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include people 65 or older and additional groups of frontline workers, starting Feb. 8.

Frontline critical workers listed in the plan are as follows:

• First responders

• Corrections officers

• Food and agriculture workers

• U.S. Postal Service workers

• Manufacturing workers

• Grocery store workers

• Public transit workers

• People who work in the education sector (teachers, support staff, community college and higher education)

• Childcare workers

• Judiciary (including but not limited to) circuit judges, district judges and district attorneys

The additional priority groups will add over 1 million people that are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Alabama. While just under 2 million people will qualify to receive the vaccine, the state continues to only receive around 100,000 doses each week.

As of today, 148,549 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 175,326 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been given out to first responders, residents and staff of Alabama’s nursing homes and individuals 75 and older. A total of 772,275 vaccines have been delivered to Alabama, meaning that 42 percent of what has already been delivered to the state has been administered.

“We have all been frustrated that the supply of vaccine coming from the federal government hasn’t kept up with the demand,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “To be blunt, we simply haven’t gotten the vaccine that we’ve been promised, and this has created a major backlog of aggravation. Today’s announcement will ensure that as more vaccine is released, we will have a plan in place to get the vaccine in people’s arms more quickly.”

Covered in this expanded group are people at high risk for work-related exposure and persons in identified age groups at risk for COVID-19 associated morbidity and mortality. These include people working or living in congregate settings including but not limited to homeless shelters and group homes.

“Alabama is expanding its guidance despite the limited vaccine in order to accelerate the vaccine uptake in our state,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “I want to reiterate that any remaining vaccines that have not been administered are either someone’s first dose and they are waiting on their appointment or they are waiting on their second dose. Any vaccine currently in the state has someone’s name on it.”

To schedule an appointment for the free COVID-19 vaccination at a county health department, individuals may call the ADPH COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline at 1-855-566-5333. For general information about COVID-19, the COVID-19 Information Hotline number is 1-800-270-7268. The vaccine providers can be found within the Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard at arcg.is/OrCey.

ADPH anticipates the release of a new online tool next week which will provide information about opportunities for vaccination, including drive-through clinics being scheduled throughout the state.