By Alabama Newscenter Staff
Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health announced Friday that ADPH on Jan. 18 will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations statewide by appointment to residents 75 years or older and first responders, including law enforcement and firefighters.
Appointments are made first come, first served. Adding these groups isn’t a full expansion into the next phase of the vaccine rollout, Ivey said.
“I appreciate the swift work of ADPH to establish a system to efficiently provide our limited resources of vaccine to as many Alabamians as possible,” Ivey said. “We have previously worked to provide vaccines to our health care workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic and, now, are diligently working to expand access to our seniors, law enforcement officers and various members of our first responders. It is critical for everyone to remain patient; demand is high, and supply is low. ADPH and their partners are working around the clock to assist as many people as they can.”
Within the first few hours of opening up the Scheduling Hotline, ADPH received more than 338,000 calls. Callers who were unable to get through are encouraged to try again later.
ADPH requests the public to avoid calling local hospitals to set up appointments for scheduling the COVID-19 vaccine. Some hospital switchboards are being overwhelmed with phone calls, creating an obstacle to patient care. Hospitals throughout Alabama are overwhelmed in providing care to COVID-19 patients and responding to other medical needs. Additional information will be provided when hospitals and locations other than county health departments have vaccine available for additional groups.
While hospitals in a few areas of the state have begun vaccinating those 75 years of age and older, Alabama continues to vaccinate more than 326,000 health care workers and nursing home residents who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19. As the vaccine uptake for this category is satisfied, ADPH is encouraging sites to vaccinate persons in the 75-plus age group and those in the law enforcement and firefighter vocations to prevent any loss of vaccine due to cold chain storage requirements.
“We recognize that demand for vaccine exceeds supply,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “While there is still an insufficient amount of the vaccine supply, we want to maximize our resources to help protect Alabamians at high risk. County health departments are working with their local points of distribution to assess what their vaccination reach has been. Decisions about the next groups to vaccinate are made at the community level with community engagement. If the very high-risk population has been covered adequately, providers can then begin vaccinating people in the other priority groups.”
Nearly 350,000 Alabamians are 75 or older and qualify for a vaccine on Jan. 18.
To schedule an appointment for the free COVID-19 vaccination at a county health department, call the ADPH at 1-855-566-5333 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Information about what to bring or wear will be given when appointments are made. See vaccination locations at https://go.usa.gov/xARKp.
If you prefer to be vaccinated by a private health provider instead of a county health department, call your provider for information.
For details about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit https://go.usa.gov/xARKE.