Vaccine eligibility expands next week; thousands in Phase 1B still waiting for a vaccine

Vaccine eligibility will expand beginning March 22

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is reminding everyone, just because you are eligible for the vaccine doesn’t mean there is enough vaccine available.

Beginning March 22, two thirds of Alabamians will be eligible for the vaccine. That is an additional two million more people next Monday, compared to today.

Retired Fire Chaplain Darrell Coons and his wife have been patiently waiting for a vaccine since the December rollout.

“Trying to get on waiting lists, get something going, ever since we were eligible,” said Darrell Coons.

He is 69-years-old and his wife is 67. They are currently on three waiting lists across Alabama for their chance at a vaccine. “I am on with Madison County Public Health, I am on Huntsville Hospital, and Walmart.”

On Friday, Doctor Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health announced vaccine eligibility will be expanded to include to those ages 55 and older, along with those who have high risk medical conditions, additional critical workers, and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“To hear that on the news, that we are going to let more people in, so we are just going to have to wait longer.”

Coons is not alone, according to the ADPH, thousands of Alabamians from Phase 1B are still waiting for the vaccine. “Very strong demand right now, I recognized there are people in our currently eligible group right now who are having difficulties finding vaccinations, so I am sure many folks are going to ask why expand at this time,” said Doctor Scott Harris. “But we do believe it is the right time to do that.”

Tracy Doughty with Huntsville Hospital said with a third vaccine newly available, his staff is hopeful they will get through the 35-thousand people waiting list a lot quicker.

“We are doing 2,500 vaccines; first vaccines and we will include those new people into that count.”

To make it an even playing field, Doughty said when signing up for an appointment, you are asked to cite what category you fall into. He said the staff randomly selects people based off the different criteria to schedule appointments.

“Our goal is to fairly pull an equal number of those from each bucket each week to continue to move down the path.”

If you are eligible for a vaccine in Phase 1C, Huntsville Hospital is currently registering people on its website. Click here.

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