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COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up, eligibility expands

The Alabama Department of Public Health has a straightforward stated mission as the coronavirus pandemic continues: “getting COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of Alabamians as quickly as possible.”

The ADPH announced Monday more groups of people who are now eligible to receive the vaccine.

In addition to healthcare providers, emergency personnel and those ages 75 and older, the vaccine is now also available to those 65 and older and additional front-line workers, including food and agriculture workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, manufacturing employees, grocery store workers, public transit workers, educators, childcare providers, judiciary members and clergy/ministers.

These additions constitute “phase 1b” of the state’s vaccine roll-out plan.

Although more parties are now eligible, the ADPH is warning that supplies are still limited.

“Many county health departments are no longer offering first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and are currently administering only second doses to those people at highest risk and whose shots are already scheduled,” the ADPH noted. “Please be patient and wait to schedule your own vaccination appointment if you have no underlying health issues or have limited contact with other people. Showing consideration for others will allow your neighbors who may be at higher risk to schedule their COVID-19 vaccinations.”

As of Feb. 9, the state had reported 474,666 total cases of the virus and 8,579 deaths.

In Franklin County, the case count is at 3,923, with deaths at 69.

For more information on the virus, the vaccine and all related topics, www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19.