For just shy of a year, the pandemic has ruled not only Jefferson County or the state of Alabama but the entire world.
For the past four weeks, the Alabama Department of Public Health and medical community have faced a new COVID-19 challenge: vaccine distribution.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris recently dispelled misunderstandings concerning the process of distribution and shed light on what is to come.
Harris said public health leaders are determined that no vaccine will be left sitting unused on the shelf.
“We are making every effort to get shots into arms as quickly as possible,” he said. “The biggest obstacle to vaccination is still the limited vaccine supply. We are attempting to manage expectations, because the timeline for receipt of vaccine has not changed and we cannot give people a resource we don’t have yet.”
The ADPH noted that all county health departments have been required to administer all inventory of the vaccine each week. To combat the expiration of unused vaccine doses, the ADPH has been working to remove supplies from providers who are not administering them in a timely manner and redirect those doses to other providers.
Thus, no vaccine doses in Alabama have been discarded, according to ADPH officials.
Providers report vaccinations administered within 24 hours of giving them, at which point the ADPH updates its Immunization Patient Registry. The total number of vaccines administered is updated daily and can be found at alabamapublichealth.gov by clicking on the link “COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.”
Demand for the vaccine outweighs the state’s supply.
The state began its distribution plan by offering the vaccine to a group it dubbed 1a – frontline health care workers and people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care situations. Last week, it opened vaccines to some people in group 1b, namely anyone 75 years old and older. Stage 1a also still is in progress.
There is a population of more than 326,000 frontline health care workers and first responders, as well as nearly 350,000 people who are 75 or older. The state had received 502,950 vaccines and administered 249,356 doses as of Friday.
Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine can find a vaccine provider locator map online at arcg.is/OrCey. But patients are asked not to show up at those locations. An appointment is required.
In Jefferson County, you can register online through the county Emergency Management Agency website, jeffcoema.org, and you will be contacted to schedule an appointment. You also may call the local call center to register. The number is 205-858-2221. Outside of Jefferson County, call the state’s hotline at 855-566-5333.
Because of the limited number of appointments, the ADPH requests that members of the public who are not yet eligible for vaccination under the current distribution phase refrain from calling the hotline.
For general information about COVID-19, including locations where testing is available, call the COVID-19 Information Hotline number at 800-270-7268.