MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The amount of COVID-19 vaccine coming into Alabama is increasing, but the group of eligible recipients won’t expand yet, health officials said Friday.
Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said in a Friday news conference that he doesn’t expect it will be long before more Alabamians will be able to get their vaccine, but for now they still have more demand than supply.
“I will say there is not a set date on the calendar, but rather we’re monitoring what our supply and demand is as we get more and more vaccine made available, we can push that out and add vaccination capacity,” Harris said.
As of Thursday evening, 1,035,868 doses of vaccine had been administered in the state, Harris said. A total of 370,678 people had completed their vaccine series, he said, and 61 of those vaccinations were Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, which just arrived in the state this week.
Harris said it’s possible that more people will be able to get the vaccine prior to the state’s mask mandate expiring on April 9.
“I would say most of the federal partners we’ve talked to feel like that in about a month to six weeks we’re going to have plenty of product,” Harris said. “We’re going to have a whole lot of product available. We’re going to be worried about hesitancy issues more acutely. We’re obviously concerned about them and planning for them now, but I think those are going to be really acute problems for us in about four to six weeks.”
Harris said the health department is working with the Alabama National Guard to deploy mobile clinics in areas where access to health care is a problem. The idea is to put them in areas where they can vaccinate people for about four days a week, with a goal of 1,000 doses a day.
“We’re primarily thinking of this as a tool to reach more rural areas, smaller areas that don’t have a lot of other providers in the area,” Harris said, adding that more information on the program will come at a later date.
Harris stressed that when the mask mandate ends next month, people should still take safety precautions in public and continue to wear them in appropriate situations.
“April 10 ought to look a lot like April 9, I hope,” Harris said. “I think people ought to be careful, they ought to stay home if they can, they ought to wear masks if they go out, they ought to stay out of crowds. So we hope that people won’t see the end of the mask mandate as just carte blanche to behave any way that they want.”