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Drew: Sign me up for the COVID-19 vaccination

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

As last week’s article stated, all subsequent articles this month will focus on providing readers pertinent information about the two newly federal authorized COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Since the roll out has begun, many are asking themselves, “How and when can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?”

Also stated last week, Operation Warp Speed (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense), in conjunction with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under our current administration, devised a roll out plan that states have begun to follow.

Many have criticized its slow implementation throughout the country, but it has begun. After January 20 we will know what changes, if any, will be made to this plan and its implementation. In the meantime, it is important for you to become familiar with the existing roll out and where you fall in the Alabama COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Plan.

The Alabama COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Plan has three separate phases. Phase One has three different subcategories – 1a, 1b and 1c. These three different subcategories outline the order the designated identified state population will receive their vaccine within Phase One. The vaccination phases will follow the plan in numerical order. A definition for each phase recipient is provided based upon their risk exposure.

Alabama is currently vaccinating its frontline health care workers and nursing home residents. These individuals fall within Phase One (1a) subcategory. These individuals include all frontline workers such as clinical and non-clinical, in hospitals, nursing homes, or those providing in-home or mental health care directly. It also includes other healthcare settings providing services with risk of exposure to fluids and aerosols.

After January 18, people 75 years old and older are eligible to get the vaccine. They merely need to schedule an appointment with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). The toll-free number is 1-888-566-5333. There are designated vaccination locations in each county for a free vaccination. Calls will be answered between 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. The ADPH states its phone lines have been flooded since making this announcement. Therefore, the ADPH encourages callers to be patient and try again later if the COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline is busy.

Great news if you live in Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous county. Note some counties made enough progress in getting the vaccine to health care providers that they now are working on beginning to vaccinate the second tier. The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency has launched an online registration form for county residents to complete to sign-up for their vaccination. Once the online registration form is completed and submitted, you will be notified when you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and how to schedule an appointment.

Keeping an Eye on Safety for you and your family’s health is critical as COVID-19 numbers and deaths continue to reach all-time highs each week.