If you are 65 years and older, you are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Those 64 and younger with underlying health concerns are eligible as well, the U.S. Department of Public Health announced.
Even though more people are now eligible to receive the vaccine, it doesn't mean they will be able to right away.
The whole country is seeing a big change in who's eligible to receive the vaccine, but the change we're not seeing in North Alabama is the shortage of health care workers who can give the vaccine to people.
For months, we've been told hospitals are facing a nursing shortage. So, even though we now have two COVID-19 vaccines, and more people eligible to receive the vaccines, we are still facing the problem of not enough health care workers to administer it.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said they will still have difficulties administering the vaccine to everyone eligible, even once they update the state's vaccine distribution plan.
“I think the biggest challenge still remains ensuring that we have enough providers to give the vaccine to persons who qualify," said Landers. "Keep in mind, the Alabama Department of Public Health, again, is not able to give everyone a vaccine in the state of Alabama for COVID-19. We just don’t have the staff to be able to do that.”
Landers said expanding the number of locations where the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered will help this problem some.
She said people who are young and overall, pretty healthy, but have asthma or other less severe underlying health conditions, won't be the first to get an appointment once the state updates its distribution plans.
The state will still look at an individual's risk factor when determining who can get the vaccine first. Landers said frontline workers and people 75 years and older will still be at a higher priority to get vaccinated.
She said ADPH is waiting to receive guidance on the new distribution plans.
“We have to be aware that there still will be a supply and demand issue here, and we want to be able to cover as many persons as possible, but also ensure that we look at the risk in context of the overall picture," said Landers. "In other words, persons who have multiple co-morbidities and are closer to 65 years of age, versus a person who is otherwise healthy but has a co-morbidity.”
Landers said she doesn't know when they will have the new distribution plans, but they hope it's soon.