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Supply keeping Alabama coronavirus from vaccine progress

The federal government announced an increase in weekly supplies. President Joe Biden is also expected to announce a new partnership that would increase the Johnson and Johnson vaccine supply.

Posted: Mar 2, 2021 1:41 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2021 4:20 PM

The Alabama Department of Public Health says the state could be in Phase 1B of the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan for the next several weeks, but that could change depending on the number of doses coming to Alabama.

"I, as a physician myself, am anxious to continue to move forward," Dr. Karen Landers with the state health department said. "There's opportunity if more vaccines become available to the state of Alabama. That is really the factor that keeps us from moving forward at the moment."

However, the Alabama Department of Public Health just doesn't know whether or not it will see a boost in supplies. It's also not sure how many vaccine doses the federal pharmacy program will bring to the state.

Dr. Landers says people are going to have to be patient before the move into Phase 1C.

"We do not want persons to be in a situation where the categories open up, but there's no vaccine for them," Dr. Landers said.

But, there is a glimmer of hope. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the federal government will increase the supply of vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week. That's up by about 700,000 doses.

It's unclear how this will impact Alabama's supply, but the state health department has previously said Alabama receives about 1.4% per every million doses in the country. That means the new increase could bring 9,800 new doses to Alabama. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is expected to further discuss the logistics and supply during his COVID vaccine update later this week.

President Joe Biden is also expected to announce a new historic partnership on Tuesday afternoon. Johnson and Johnson and its rival Merck will work together to expand supply of the vaccine more quickly.

Alabama expects to receive 40,100 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines some time this week or next week. It's still unclear whether or not they'll see more doses in the future. That's why Dr. Landers asks everyone to just wait.

"I think it's going to be a while before we fully expand. I would certainly await to see what Dr. Scott Harris fully advises in terms of moving forward," Dr. Landers said.

Keep in mind the state health department is working with a population of 1.6 million eligible people. Almost 19% of that group is fully vaccinated. 39% have gotten one dose of a vaccine, while 680,976 people have yet to receive any doses of the vaccine.

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