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State health officials say vaccine distribution phases may be difficult to enforce

Columbus Health Department administers nearly 200 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
Columbus Health Department administers nearly 200 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine((Source: WTVM))
Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 11:04 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State health officials say it won’t be until maybe the end of January before we transition into phase 1B of the vaccination distribution plan.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS in the area will receive their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this week.

Harris said in this first round, pharmacies will only vaccinate nursing home residents and employees in the phase 1A category. Harris said they will get more than 53,000 doses.

It will be administered at the nursing homes so the state can guarantee each dose is going to the right groups of people. Harris said the state is not concerned that the nursing home allotment will go to the wrong groups of people.

But, Dr. Harris said when we enter into the next phase of distribution and the vaccine is being given out at pharmacies, it could be harder to guarantee.

“You can verify somebody’s age,” Harris said. “That is a pretty simple step to do, but in terms of verifying who is an essential worker or not, I don’t think there is really a good solution for that. You are not going to have all those people prove who they are and where they work and why they are eligible. Maybe there will be some places that can do that, but generally speaking, we are expecting people to do the right thing. That might be naïve and I’m sure there will be people who take advantage of that system, but by the time we get to that phase, we will have enough vaccine that we can get to that group pretty quickly.”

Dr. Harris said if the state begins to see a trend of people getting the vaccine before it’s their turn, they will try to police restrictions around the distribution process.

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