Beginning today, coronavirus vaccine eligibility has been extended to include people ages 55 and older, people 16 and older who have high-risk medical conditions, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and additional critical workers.
That’s about 2 million more people becoming eligible for the vaccine, while the state receives between 110,000 and 120,000 first doses of the vaccine each week, according to a statement from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Once the new categories are added, two-thirds of Alabama residents will be eligible for the vaccine.
President Joe Biden also has directed states to open eligibility to all adults by May 1.
So far, almost 1.4 million vaccine doses have been given in Alabama. Vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer require two doses, while the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson requires one dose.
“We have been concerned that many people at high risk and others engaged in close contact work have not been eligible to receive the vaccine yet, but with the additional vaccine supply we are better able to meet the needs of Alabama residents,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement announcing eligibility expansion.
The change will move the state solidly into its Allocation Phase 1c as described in the Alabama Vaccine Allocation Plan, which can be found at alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19vaccine/assets/adph-covid19-vaccination-allocation-plan.pdf.
Critical workers being added to the vaccine eligible list are those who work in transportation and logistics; waste and wastewater; food service; shelter and housing, including construction; finance, including bank tellers; information technology and communication; energy; legal; media; and public safety, including engineers.
Other critical workers such as nurses and first responders, people who work in manufacturing and people who work in grocery stores, already are eligible for the vaccine.
Medical conditions that will make people 16 years old and older eligible for the vaccine include: cancer; chronic kidney disease; COPD; heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state; solid organ transplant; obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; smoking; diabetes; and other medical conditions as determined by a medical provider, according to the statement.
Public health officials have asked people to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing even after being vaccinated, even though the state is lifting its legal requirement to do so April 9.
For BirminghamWatch resources to find a vaccine, read Where to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine.
Vaccines are available from county health departments, some health care providers and many pharmacies. You can find advice on tracking down a vaccine here.
Some of the main ways to schedule a vaccine are through the Jefferson County Department of Health hotline at (205) 858-2221 or the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency’s online site.
Outside of Jefferson County, you can use the state’s online scheduling portal or call 855-566-5333.
One of the largest providers is UAB Medicine. Go to the COVID Vaccination Information page for information and to schedule appointments.