HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The announcement Friday that Alabama would begin vaccinating residents 75 years old and up, starting Jan. 18, was followed by a bumpy rollout.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported it received more than 1 million calls in 24 hours and many residents expressed frustration about how many times they called the appointment line and couldn’t get through.
ADPH officials told News 19 they understand the public’s concern and are sorry the rollout was frustrating to so many. ADPH said it is working on an online form for residents to sign up.
Despite the rocky start, vaccinations will begin Jan. 18 for people 75 and older.
Dr. Karen Landers, of the Alabama Department of Health, outlined where things stand in setting up appointments and clinics at health departments across Alabama.
“Now we’re talking about thousands (of appointments) and that’s actually changed, it’s changes with each appointment, but we’re really talking about thousands of people,” Dr. Landers said. “And I as I mentioned, depending on the size of the health department, we book five patients every 15 minutes, so for smaller health departments that’s 140 patients a day, really with one nurse. With additional nurses we can go higher.
“As of this morning we have scheduled more than 239 clinics over the next couple of weeks and again this in our local county health departments.”
Landers said they expect vaccine shipments to allow ADPH sites to continue vaccinations through the end of the month and beyond.
If you’re 75 and older or calling for someone eligible, the number to call for an appointment, through the Alabama Department of Public Health, is 855-566-5333. That line is set to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
ADPH said today the line has been clogged by people outside the 75 and older age group, looking to be vaccinated, but they are not eligible yet.
Huntsville Hospital is also setting up a wait list for people to make appointments to get vaccinated — again in that 75 and up age group . The hospital is directing people to Huntsville Hospital.org.
Here’s the link to the form to submit for a vaccination appointment.
We have a complete list of proposed locations, here.
The focus on older residents is because COVID-19 has hit that group the hardest.
Alabama hospitals Monday reported a new record high in COVID-19 patients, just below 3,088.