Alabama will expand coronavirus vaccinations to more people in just a few days.
The expansion covers people 55 and older, people 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not previously eligible, such as food service workers.
Huntsville Hospital Senior Vice-President of Operations Tracy Doughty said Friday that the hospital is prepared for the vaccine eligibility expansion. He says they have already updated their website to accommodate the new eligibility groups by adding in the new categories.
On the website, they have different categories to choose from, like "essential worker 1B and 1C" or "high risk." All the categories represent the different groups that are currently eligible or will be eligible on Monday.
"So, it helps us kind of keep track of who's kind of applying to get the vaccine. It also allows us to do our best to spread evenly across those buckets our 500 new doses per day," said Doughty.
Around 45,000 to 50,000 people are currently on the vaccine waitlist for John Hunt Park. However, Doughty said some of those people have already gotten their vaccine elsewhere. He also said that vaccinations are going great at John Hunt Park.
Right now, the hospital is being allocated 2,500 vaccines a week for first doses. Hospital staff could be vaccinating a lot more, though.
Doughty said staff could easily vaccinate 2,000 people a day with first and second doses.
"We're asking the state for increased allocation, so if we get that, we'll do more people, but as of right now, we're doing about 2,500 new people per week based on the state's allocation and the state's recommendation of who can get the vaccine currently," said Doughty.
Doughty said he thinks people are excited to finally be eligible to get the vaccine.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday that around half to two thirds of all adults in Alabama will be eligible for the vaccine on Monday. All adults could become eligible for the vaccine in a few weeks, though.
Harris said that Alabama will follow President Joe Biden's request for the country and open up eligibility to all adults on May 1. He says, though, that it could be much earlier than May.
"I say that in the context of talking about these clinics. This current schedule for National Guard clinics is going to take six weeks to complete. It's three weeks around the first time and three weeks again the second time. There's a really very good chance that eligibility is gonna be expanded before we get done even with those first rotations," said Dr. Scott Harris.
In North Alabama, you can get your vaccine at multiple locations, including select Walmart and CVS pharmacies and the John Hunt Park vaccine clinic in Madison County.