The Alabama Department of Public Health and Governor Kay Ivey announced Friday that COVID-19 vaccinations will soon be made available by appointment to Alabamians over the age of 75, as well as firefighters and law enforcement, beginning January 18th. This new rollout comes as healthcare workers in hospitals throughout the state continue to be vaccinated.

Appointments made at medical facilities across the state operate on a first come, first serve basis. Alabama is in the middle of vaccinating its over 326,000 health care workers and nursing home residents, but the state is suggesting vaccination sites to treat others as well to prevent any loss of vaccine doses due to their strict cold storage requirements.

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"I appreciate the swift work of ADPH to establish a system to efficiently provide our limited resources of vaccine to as many Alabamians as possible,” Governor Ivey said. “We have previously worked to provide vaccines to our health care workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic, and now, are diligently working to expand access to our seniors, law enforcement officers and various members of our first responders."

This expansion would immediately qualify nearly 350,000 new Alabamians to receive the vaccine. However, this is not a full expansion into the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

The ADPH urges those looking to schedule their vaccination to avoid contacting their local hospitals, as switchboards have been overwhelmed and are preventing proper patient care.

Instead, people should contact the COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline at 1-855-566-5333. The phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Vaccination locations can be seen online here.

The hotline received over 338,000 calls within its first few hours of operation, and staff are reassuring people that any issues scheduling an appointment will be fixed in the coming days and weeks.

"We recognize that demand for vaccine exceeds supply,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “While there is still an insufficient amount of the vaccine supply, we want to maximize our resources to help protect Alabamians at high risk. County health departments are working with their local points of distribution to assess what their vaccination reach has been. Decisions about the next groups to vaccinate are made at the community level with community engagement. If the very high-risk population has been covered adequately, providers can then begin vaccinating people in the other priority groups.”

The ADPH will provide more information when medical facilities across the state have additional vaccine doses for additional groups.

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