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Local pharmacies prepare for higher demand with vaccine eligibility expanding

Published: Mar. 13, 2021 at 11:02 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Public Health reports there are more than 1,000 healthcare providers enrolled to administer the COVID-19 vaccine across the state.

With the phase 1C vaccine expansion, more than 2 million additional people will qualify. Local vaccine providers are gearing up for an increase in an already high demand.

“We start at about 7:30 in the morning and end at about 7:30 at night,” Ritch’s Pharmacy owner Ralph Sorrell said.

Ritch’s Pharmacy in Mountain Brook has been administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine since late December.

“Two pharmacists spend most of the day on immunizations and two on regular prescription work flow,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell said they immunize anywhere between 70 to 120 people every day of the week. Even though it’s busy, he said he is glad to be one of the pharmacies that is getting vaccine shipments.

“There are hundreds of independent pharmacies in Alabama would love to get some vaccine into their pharmacies and be able to take care of the patients in their communities,” Sorrell said. “It’s really just a supply issue.”

Sorrell said the expansion into phase 1C wont impact his store much because they have enough staff. They just launched an online scheduling portal that caps the appointments each day at what they have supplies for. He said so far, they are already booked out until May.

“You can go to our website and there is a direct link and not be placed on a waiting list,” Sorrell said. “You can actually make your appointment and that’s been wonderful.”

Sorrell said the new online portal will help with an increase in customers seeking vaccine with phase 1C. He said he is glad the state is expanding eligibility to more people.

“The more people we can immunize and the quicker we can get them immunized, the better it is,” he said. We think we will be fine without any hitch. We will be glad to have more people available to give shots to.”

Sorrell said if vaccine supply increases and more pharmacies have access, vaccination rates could increase.

“President Biden said he thinks by July the Fourth we will have some normalcy, but in my mind, I think the fall,” Sorrell said. “I think we will have a cautious summer. People still wearing some masks and being careful, but I hope by the fall, football games are open again and churches are open again.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health does have one list of every provider in the state. This includes local pharmacies. Click here to see all the providers to try and find an appointment.

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