Thursday marked the first day of vaccinations in nine select CVS locations across the State of Alabama.
That morning, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris emphasized the importance of the locations of these sites.
SVI rankings for Lawrence County, Alabama (between 0-1):
- Overall - 0.4858 (low to moderate level of vulnerability)
- Socioeconomic theme - 0.7861 (high level of vulnerability)
- Household Composition/Disability theme - 0.5135 (moderate to high level of vulnerability)
- Minority/Language theme - 0.3457 (low to moderate level of vulnerability)
- Housing/Transportation theme - 0.1436 (low level of vulnerability)
"We contacted CVS and asked for a call and we told them we would like to put them in our high SVI counties. And we were really pleased that they were excited to do that. They were very cooperative," Harris said.
The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) is a CDC tool that uses data from the U.S. Census to determine which counties are more at risk during a major impact event, like a hurricane or a pandemic.
For instance, 2016 data from the SVI showed that Lawrence County has an overall rank of 0.4858 on a scale of 0-1. Harris said it's crucial that these populations
"Our most vulnerable counties typically are very rural and actually are typically very small. They don't have really large populations," Harris said.
"What we are making sure that we do is that we go out of our way to recruit additional providers in those communities to make sure that there's other places where people can get the vaccine."
CVS echoed a similar sentiment on Thursday. Pharmacist Meg Sanders said reception from those communities that they're trying to reach has been positive so far.
"They're happy to have this here. And as we continue to get more allocation of vaccine, we hope to continue to spread to other communities that are within that demographic and that need our assistance. So, we're here to support them when we have the available resources to do so," Sanders said.
However, the reach of the vaccines in Moulton went beyond the target demographic of local rural and minority communities. At least one Huntsville resident was able to make a vaccine appointment on Thursday.
Sanders said they would have to check and see what CVS as a company is doing to ensure that vaccines reach those intended when the specific sites were chosen.
Some who got the vaccine on Thursday, like educator Melcha Satchel, said he wasn't bothered by the idea of someone from Huntsville getting the vaccination in Moulton.
"If it's here in this area, I can't blame somebody that's willing to drive because if you say 'north Alabama,' that's still going from here all the way over to the state line. So, if they're willing to drive over here to get it, I don't have a problem with that. It's serving its purpose," Satchel said.
The Colbert County High School principal received his first vaccine dose on Thursday. He said rather than trying to prevent people from outside Lawrence County from getting the vaccine, Satchel said he would rather see a larger effort to educate those within the county that there is more vaccine in their community.
"That's what I would like to see. For me, I would load up in my car and go anywhere to get the vaccination," Satchel said.
CVS recieves about 11,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week. Sanders said to check their website regularly since there's no set timeframe for when new vaccine appointments become available.
As of 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, the locations in Bayou la Batre, Greensboro and Moulton were fully booked for appointments.