State health officer on vaccine: 'Not enough to go around'

Alabama will soon announce a time frame for expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations.

Posted: Jan 28, 2021 4:48 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will soon announce a time frame for expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations, the state health officer told lawmakers Thursday. But he said the supply of vaccine coming into the state remains far short of what is needed.

“You’ll hear very soon about expanded eligibility as other states have done,” State Health Officer Scott Harris told lawmakers during budget hearings. Harris told reporters he expects to be able to discuss a time frame Friday. Currently, only health care workers, people 75 and older, first responders and nursing home residents are eligible for vaccinations.

Lawmakers described widespread public frustration and anger with the rollout, including sites running out of vaccine and some sites allowing younger people to get vaccinated. Harris said he understood the frustration but the state has been limited by the number of doses it receives.

“We all have constituents that are very frustrated, very anxious, very angry a lot of them about the vaccine rollout,” Republican Sen. Arthur Orr from Decatur said.

The state of 5 million people received 764,125 doses - enough to give about 380,000 people the two shots required for maximum protection. There are currently more than 700,000 people eligible for the vaccinations.

“I know it has been intensely frustrating for a lot of people,” Harris said. “The fundamental problem is there is not enough to go around.”

The Biden administration has recommended states make people over 65 eligible for the vaccine. Harris said they are working now to try to determine if there is enough capacity to handle that.

"We don’t have a lot of extra vaccine out there, but there may be a little bit,” Harris said.

Expanding eligibility to 1.5 million people would require 3 million doses when the state is getting about 60,000 first doses a week. The state is getting an extra 10,000 doses for the next three weeks but it is unclear how long that will last.

Alabama has more than 400,000 undistributed doses, according to state numbers. Harris said most of those are designated for people in upcoming appointments including second shots.

"The states that have the big giant clinics that you see that are giving out shots all day long, they tend to be giving out their second shots and just hoping the supply is going to keep up. Some of those states have turned away people who are showing up to get second shot because they have already given that shot to another person.

"That's how you run your percentage up and get shots in arms really quickly but it doesn't guarantee that people are going to get their second shot," Harris said.

Auburn University has been vaccinating people under 75, including people with medical conditions or people who cant maintain distancing at work, according to the school's vaccination plan.

Ryan Easterling, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said while some communities may be ahead of others, the state has reached out to Auburn “to clarify the allocation plan and ensure that community outreach has been adequate for current risk groups prior to entities moving to additional subsets of eligible groups.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
Covington254780
Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
Tishomingo222267
Jasper219748
Attala213473
Chickasaw205057
Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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