State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said vaccine supply is ramping up in Alabama.
An average of 140,000 first doses are coming in weekly. That's more than this state has ever seen before.
Alabama Department of Public Health added 120 providers this week, with the additional supply coming in.
The federal retail pharmacy program is also expanding in the state. CVS and Walmart are both adding more locations. Their vaccine supply comes from the federal government, and not from Alabama’s allocation.
CVS added 66 Alabama locations to begin giving 6,800 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Dr. Harris cautioned it may take time before those stores can re-stock their supply once those vaccines are given.
Walmart also added more locations, now offering vaccines at 123 stores. Alabama Walmart locations have received nearly 24,000 vaccine doses so far.
“The initial lot of Walmart stores who came online- we didn’t have input on that process on where those went,” Harris said. “But since that time, Walmart has worked very well with us, as has CVS to understand what our needs are in terms of vaccine equity and adding providers in places that need providers.”
Right now, Alabama remains in phase 1B with 1.5 million Alabamians eligible. The group includes essential workers and people 65 and older.
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State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, said the decision to expand eligibility will be based on supply and demand. He said eligibility will be expanded when stores start accumulating doses that aren't being given.
We asked for his best guess on when that will be.
“We anticipate supply is going to increase dramatically,” Harris said. “I would say most of the federal partners that we’ve talked to feel like in a month to six weeks, we’re going to have plenty of products. We’re going to have a whole lot of product available. We’re going to be worried about hesitancy issues more acutely. "
Dr. Harris said while he can't commit to a date, it's likely Alabama could expand eligibility before the current health order is up. That happens April ninth.
ADPH is also finalizing plans with the Alabama National Guard for guardsmen to help give vaccines in underserved areas.
“This allows us to get to parts of the state where access to care is a problem or transportation is a problem,” Harris said. “We’re primarily thinking of this as a tool to reach more rural areas, smaller areas that don’t have a lot of providers.”
The idea is to have two separate units, each vaccinating one thousand people each day. They would move to different communities each day, four days per week.
Details are still being worked out, Harris said. The earliest guardsmen would begin clinics is March 23.