As hospitals and county public health centers across north Alabama prepare for the COVID-19 vaccines to expand to more people on Monday, some clinics and pharmacies are joining in the preparations.
Jim Gregory has been coming to Payless Pharmacy in Decatur for more than 30 years and said he is eager to get the ball rolling on his first vaccine dose.
"I was going to be ready whether it was at 12 noon or 12 midnight," Gregory said.
He spent six years as a member of the medical evacuation field in the Air Force reserves during the Vietnam War era. He said it was a marvel to watch how Operation Warp Speed had move the vaccine process along as quickly as it did.
"I think we've spared no expense to get to where we are, to have our vaccine and to be taking this scourge, if you will, down to zero," Gregory said.
The next step to reaching that goal is what Alabama is preparing for on Monday: a soft rollout of the 1b distribution, which includes adults 75 and older along with more first responders.
Payless Pharmacy co-owner and pharmacist Blake Gowen said he and his staff have been preparing for the expansion for the past week and feel good about where they are now.
"It's been rewarding in the fact that the preparation that we did going into this, that now we're starting to see these people that we were worried if they would want the vaccine, there's a tremendous response for it," Gowan said.
He noted that the long-standing relationships that they have with their customers is going to be key to getting more people vaccinated as the supply increases.
"I think we're in a unique position across the state. Once more providers come on board, independent pharmacies will be able to help and be able to vaccinate these people that are in these long waiting lists," Gowan said.