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Update: ALNG clinics coming, eligibility expanded

As of Monday, eligibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Alabama was expanded to include people age 55-years or older, a wide swatch of critical workers, as well as those with high-risk medical conditions and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

While the expansion will make vaccine available to a large percentage of the state’s population, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) said in a Monday update that “limited vaccine remains the greatest challenge” in the state’s vaccination effort.

As of that update, nearly 511,800 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the state, as well as more than 10,400 deaths and over 47,100 hospitalizations.

So far, more than 1.4 million doses have been administered of the more than 2 million the state has so far received.

Vaccination efforts will get a boost in the coming weeks as the Alabama National Guard (ALNG) begins establishing mobile clinics across rural parts of the state.

The ALNG will operate a mobile clinic at Block Park in Selma on March 30 to administer first doses and will return to the same location on April 20 to administer second doses.

As the state prepares for the end of the mask mandate on Friday, April 9, both the ADPH and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey are encouraging Alabamians to continue wearing masks.

“After April 9, masks will no longer be a mandate, but they remain one of the most successful tools we have to keep folks safe from COVID-19,” Ivey said in a press release Monday.

The ADPH also urged continued mask wearing after the mandate’s April expiration, adding that 
“[m]any businesses and healthcare facilities will continue to require facial coverings in their facilities.”

Ivey this week amended the state’s Safer at Home order to reflect changes made the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding social distancing protocols in schools – the guidance now states that students should remain three-feet apart, rather than six as previously ordered.

“Alabama continues moving in the right direction and we feel very optimistic that COVID-19 will soon be in our rearview mirrors.,” Ivey said in a release Monday. “Until then, we want to ensure that we are doing what we know is right in Alabama, based on recommendations by the CDC and other experts. That also means that we can continue taking reasonable steps to return to normal.”