Alabama begins expanded COVID-19 vaccinations

Alabama begins expanded COVID-19 vaccinations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama today will expand who is eligible to receive immunizations against COVID-19 but health officials cautioned there’s still not enough vaccine for everyone who qualifies for a shot.

Beginning Monday, everyone 65 and older; educators; grocery store workers; some manufacturing workers; public transit workers; agriculture employees; state legislators and constitutional officers will be eligible to get vaccinations. Previously only health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and people 75 and older were eligible.

“If you are eligible for a vaccine, then we will get you one if want to take it. But it is not going to happen immediately for everyone. There is still going to be awhile before we have enough,” Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, told reporters Friday.

Harris said an estimated 1.5 million people will be eligible for the vaccinations.

The Alabama Department of Public Health site has a map of providers providing shots.

The state is opening large, drive-thru clinics in eight cities: Anniston, Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa.

Harris said it will require 3 million doses to give the 1.5 million people the two shots required for maximum protection. The state has so far received 923,750 doses and is receiving about 70,000 per week. So far, 436,962 doses have been given. Harris said the remaining doses have someone’s name on it through appointments and clinics for a first or second shot.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced it is opening an a third clinic, this one at Parker High School, for vaccinations. People do not have to be UAB patients but must fall in the statewide eligibility group.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin urged people in the city to get vaccinated.

“We are not out of the woods yet. So I really want to encourage the citizens of Birmingham to take advantage of this site,” Woodfin said.

More than 8,500 people in Alabama have died of COVID-19, including confirmed and probable cases. More than 472,000 have tested positive.

While the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, it can be deadly for the elderly and people with serious health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease.