Rural North Alabama counties see less and less coronavirus vaccine

Smith receives the COVID-19 vaccine from the Lincoln County Health Department.

Vaccines are getting harder to find in rural counties.

Posted: Feb 8, 2021 5:24 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2021 6:03 PM

Frustrations are mounting in rural parts of North Alabama because it's getting harder to get the vaccine and most places are out.

Jessica Butler lives in Mississippi but her 73-year-old mom lives in the Shoals.

Butler said she's had this day marked, the day her mom could get the vaccine in Alabama but she said the only thing she's been able to get her mom is on waiting lists.

"I went to the website to see if she could make an appointment and it appeared as though none of the counties in North Alabama you could even select to get an appointment on the platform and it's been a lot of asking around," said Butler, as she described trying to navigate the Alabama Department of Public Health's website.

Butler said she's had more success getting answers by calling around to friends in the area and pharmacies.

"It's a little too much word of mouth for my preference. I'd like it to be a little more standardized and more accessible and all of that," said Butler.

Butler said there is a lot of confusion on where people in the Shoals can get the vaccine right now the only two places are Franklin and Lauderdale County Health Departments. They are doing first-come, first-served and you'd wait in your car for the shot.

Helen Keller Hospital and the North Alabama Medical Center don't have vaccines, either.

There were a few pharmacies in the area that had some doses of vaccine, but all of those have been used or spoken for. The Colbert County Health Department is out of first doses. They won't get any new doses until March, according to the health department. If you got your first shot there you can still get your second shot at the health department. They have enough vaccines for that.

"Today I'm starting to feel more pessimistic about it, because today is the eligibility day. I've got her on one waiting list in her hometown at a pharmacy and they told me everything they had was spoken for appointment-wise, which is common. That's what happened in mississippi here," said Butler.

Butler and her husband both have underlying health conditions and they were able to get their vaccines where they live in Mississippi because they qualified. Alabama is not allowing people under the age of 65 with underlying health conditions to get the vaccine yet.

"I feel lucky and blessed that we got ours and it's not lost on me how thankful I am that we got it. There is a little bit of guilt, I'll be honest. Here I am, I have mine already and my mom is in Alabama in another state waiting on hers," said Butler.

Butler said while she and her husband were in line to get their vaccines in Mississippi they noticed tags from Tennessee and Texas. She said if it is impossible to get her mom vaccinated in Alabama she might see if she can get the vaccine in Mississippi.

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