BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In the coming weeks, COVID-19 vaccines will become more widely available as the U.S. shift into new phases of administration.
Currently, Alabama is in phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine administration. 1A includes high-risk healthcare providers and long term care facility residents.
The next phase, 1B, includes frontline essential workers, first responders, and persons age 75 and older. This includes firefighters and police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said some of the titles in these phases can be open to interpretation.
“It’s not the title but it’s the role because we may have persons, for example, in some areas of Alabama [like ] our of law-enforcement and our firefighters are also first responders they’re also working in that particular role,” said Landers.
Dr. Michael Saag, an epidemiologist with UAB hospital said we can expect to enter into phase 1B in the coming weeks.
“If all things go well and our supply chain stays active, we should be able to start moving into older populations in Alabama, I would guess, in the first part of February,” said Saag.
The next phase, 1C includes all other essential workers: workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing, finance, information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety, and public health workers. Phase 1C also includes persons aged 65-74 years as well as persons aged 16-64 years with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19.
Landers said the state’s biggest obstacle in progressing through the phases will be supply. After phase 1A, 1B, and 1C is when the general public not previously outlines will have access to the vaccine as a part of phase 2.
It will still be a few weeks before the state is ready to move on from phase 1A, making it difficult to say when the general public will get their vaccine or how they will be notified to make an appointment.
“I don’t know to be honest,” said Saag. “Those plans have not been revealed to me. I doubt they’re going to put all the pressure on the primary care providers to let people know one by one.”
Saag said when vaccines are more widely available, he believes there will be a website set up for the public to access and make their appointments. This would also help those that do not have primary care providers, or for those whose doctor does not provide the vaccine.
As we are now seeing a new strain of COVID-19 here in the US, Dr. Saag said there is every indication the vaccines will also protect you from the new strain.
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