BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Ramping up COVID-19 vaccines in Alabama, like much of the country, has been slower than what state health leaders wanted.
The Alabama Department of Public Health ran into a several problems it had to overcome on the first rollout of the Pfizer vaccine. While supply remains the big issue, vaccinations are looking to increase.
The updated vaccine numbers in Alabama now shows we have about more than 226,000 doses of the vaccine. So far, only about 20% percent of the doses have been given to people. Healthcare workers are at the top of the list at 1a. Nursing home residents and workers are also in that category. That group took most of the second shipment of vaccines.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the vaccinations were staggered at hospitals so no one area would be hit hard if there were side effects. Hospitals were pressed to do vaccines with the increasing number of COVID patients.
“The main problem - we don’t have enough supply to go around. It’s true we have a high allotment, but the allotment our state has, has not been shipped into the state. It’s not like we have all of those shots waiting here to be given. We have to have facilities up and running and ready to give them,” Harris said.
Harris agreed starting up during the holidays also slowed down the process. The health officer said most of those early problems are over and the vaccination process is expecting those shots to go smoother and quicker in the coming weeks.
Harris said more facilities are online. With Pfizer, the state was limited to only those hospitals that could handle super-cold storage. With Moderna, more vaccines are available. Sites now include pharmacies, urgent care units, and all county health departments. The state is getting weekly shipments of vaccine ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 doses.
“I think all of those issues are behind us now, for the most part. We now have around 140 sites around the state with vaccines and I think you are going to see things pick up pretty quickly,” Harris said.
Dr. Harris said later this month, some folks other than healthcare workers and nursing home residents and workers will be able to get the vaccine. People 75 and older should be able to get it soon. Still again, Harris says most people who are younger and don’t have conditions are looking at spring or summer.