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Alabama to expand COVID vaccinations to ages 55 and up on March 22

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Oxford 2nd vaccine event 3-8-21

Betty Brooks receives her second dose of vaccine from Sonya English with the Surgery Center during the RMC and Calhoun County EMA vaccination event at the Oxford Civic Center on March 8, 2021.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Friday that starting March 22, eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations will be expanded to include people age 55 and older.

In addition, vaccines will be made available to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people ages 16-65 with certain medical conditions, and people in certain higher-risk professions, including restaurant staff, bank tellers, construction workers and those in the legal profession.

During the week of March 29 through April 2, additional vaccination clinics will be planned around the state, according to ADPH.

Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Tiffany DeBoer said Anniston’s Regional Medical Center has requested more doses of the vaccine, but on Friday that request was still pending.

If the request is approved, DeBoer said, local health officials will open clinics to get the vaccine “into as many arms as possible.”

Dr. Raul Magadia, RMC’s infectious disease specialist, said RMC requested 10,000 doses last week. While he’s glad to get any amount of the vaccine, he said, he expects RMC will get a lower amount than requested.

“If you order 5,000, they’ll give you 2,500,” he said.

Also, Magadia said, local pharmacies have started giving out vaccines. Some are distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot, he said.

“That’s really good for the community,” he said.

In addition to those age 55 and older and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, groups to be included for extended eligibility are people age 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions which include but are not limited to the following conditions:

  • Cancer

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • COPD

  • Heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state

  • Solid organ transplant

  • Obesity, BMI greater than 30

  • Pregnancy

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Smoking

  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes

  • Other medical conditions as determined by your medical provider

Also, critical workers in the following areas who were not already recommended for vaccination will be eligible:

  • Transportation and logistics

  • Waste and wastewater

  • Food service (includes restaurant staff)

  • Shelter and housing (construction)

  • Finance (bank tellers)

  • Information technology and communication

  • Energy

  • Legal

  • Media

  • Public safety (engineers)

The additional priority groups will add over 2 million people who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Alabama; while around two-thirds of Alabama residents will qualify to receive the vaccine, the state receives between 110,000 and 120,000 first doses each week, according to ADHP.

As of March 11, 556,603 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 611,566 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 8,745 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the state. A total of 1,731,965 vaccines have been delivered to Alabama.

State health officer Dr. Scott Harris emphasized that while vaccine roll-out continues, everyone needs to continue to wear masks and maintain social-distancing.