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Alabama 9th in nation for vaccinating vulnerable

According to an update from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Thursday, the state is ranked 9th in the nation for vaccinating “highly vulnerable citizens,” that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Repot (MMWR) released Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the state had administered more than 1.3 million doses of vaccine.

Alabama topped 510,000 cases of COVID-19 this week and is now approaching 10,400 deaths as a result of the disease, which has now been a crisis for the country for more than a year.

As of Wednesday, more than 46,900 Alabamians had been hospitalized as a result of the pandemic.

The department is gearing up for an expansion in vaccine eligibility, which will open up to citizens 55 years and older, as well as a wider group of critical care workers, people with high-risk medical conditions and those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, on March 22.

An online portal, accessible at alcovidvaccine.gov, is available for residents to check their eligibility and make appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at county health departments.

In addition to expanded eligibility, the state is stepping up efforts to increase vaccination rates in underserved and rural communities across the state after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey activated the Alabama National Guard (ALNG) to set up mobile vaccination sites across the state.

A mobile vaccination clinic will be set up in Selma on March 30 at Block Park to provide first doses of vaccine, with second doses to be administered April 20.

Vaccination efforts were hampered earlier in the week following severe weather that struck the state Wednesday night, forcing some county health departments to close on Thursday, but the department reported that no vaccine was lost due to power outages.

“The [ADPH] plans for management of vaccines in severe weather events,” the update stated. “Plans include backup generators and alternative storage sites. ADPH has lost no COVID-19 vaccine as a result of [Wednesday’s] severe weather.”

A new feature on the ADPH COVID-19 dashboard provides vaccination information for all 67 counties, including the percent of residents over 16 years of age who have received at least one dose of vaccine and the total number of doses administered – according to the data. March 11 was the state’s highest vaccination day with more than 5,900 injections given.