MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For the past four weeks, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has been distributing its full federal allotment of 50,000 to 60,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to providers in Alabama. Vaccine allocations are based on state population per capita and not on the amount of vaccine on hand.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris commented about misunderstandings concerning the speed vaccines have been given in the state, saying, “Every person who receives a COVID-19 shot is deserving of one and will receive it, as we are determined to make sure that no vaccine is sitting unused on the shelf. We are making every effort to get shots into arms as quickly as possible. 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.”
To assist county health departments with vaccine clinics, ADPH employees have been redirected from their existing duties. For example, on Jan. 18 local health departments conducted 62 immunization clinics and a total of 14,312 vaccinations were administered. County health departments are required to administer all inventory of vaccine each week until no vaccine remains. With an understanding that some smaller rural counties may not be able to give vaccine at that volume, ADPH is partnering with community providers to rapidly get vaccine out to the public.
In response to concerns that some providers are failing to administer their allotments of vaccine on a timely basis, ADPH will begin removing vaccine supplies from providers who are not administering vaccine in a timely way. Unused vaccine will be redirected to other providers who will administer vaccine faster. ADPH is surveying all providers in the state to ensure that all administered doses have been properly reported to ADPH, and to determine whether there is any available vaccine that needs to be redistributed elsewhere.
Contrary to some reports, the number of unused doses from previous allocations does not affect the quantity of doses that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorizes for Alabama. ADPH is working with CDC to resolve data issues to ensure that Alabama receives credit for every dose administered in the state. The total number of vaccines administered is updated daily at alabamapublichealth.gov. ADPH reports there have been 429,655 cases and 6,283 deaths due to COVID-19 in Alabama as of Jan. 20. To date, 184,618 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alabama. The federal government has not delivered all of its allocated doses to Alabama
A total of 446,150 doses of the 640,150 doses allocated to Alabama have been delivered. No vaccine doses in Alabama have been discarded, and allocations are population based so there is no advantage for residents of larger counties over smaller ones. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered in nearly equal proportions in the state. In addition to providing vaccine numbers, the ADPH dashboard at alabamapublichealth.gov features a new vaccine provider locator map which lists addresses for COVID-19 providers. This map can be found at arcg.is/OrCey on the tab at the bottom of the page.
Providers are federally required to report vaccinations given within 24 hours. ADPH uses the Immunization Patient Registry with Integrated Technology (ImmPRINT) system to collect this information. ADPH is reaching out to provide assistance to providers in entering this information and will continue to add more providers. ADPH is working with some large companies to provide vaccinations as more vaccine becomes available.
The demand for COVID-19 vaccine still exceeds supply as there are more than 326,000 health care workers, law enforcement officers and firefighters and nearly 350,000 people in Alabama who qualify for a vaccine because they are 75 years old and older.
ADPH has also been actively recruiting and welcoming volunteers to assist with COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout the state. Persons who wish to volunteer are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact information.
While appointments are limited, the COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline number at 1-855-566-5333 remains available. ADPH requests that the public not call this line to schedule a vaccine UNLESS they currently are in an eligible group – health care workers, people age 75 and older, law enforcement officers or firefighters.
For general information about COVID-19, including locations where testing is available, call the COVID-19 Information Hotline number at 1-800-270-7268.