Alabama at risk for reduction in vaccine allotment from federal government

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Alabama remains among the worst states in the country for fewest COVID-19 vaccines administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When looking at total population, Alabama ranks second to last, only ahead of Mississippi, for administering the fewest number of doses per 100,000 people.

And now the state’s supply of vaccine could be in jeopardy.

Last week, the Biden administration announced that states with lower demand for vaccine could have their allocation shipped to other states with higher demand. So far, Alabama has not been told its allotment is changing, but state health officials say they’re afraid we could be at a tipping point.

Alabama has 1.2 million residents fully vaccinated; the state has 5 million people.

April 8th, Alabama observed the highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in a single day with 44,000 doses. But that didn’t last as daily doses administered almost immediately began declining. Last week, daily dose numbers were less than half of that, varying between 15,000 and 20,000. News 19 asked health officials about the decline.

“People who really wanted to be vaccinated, who already had their minds made up they were going to be vaccinated and actively pursuing the opportunity to be vaccinated have really been met,” said Dr. Karen Landers, ADPH spokesperson.

More simply put, the biggest factor for vaccine demand going down is that people don’t want it.

“I think so and again I remind people that the opportunity is there and the questions can be answered,” Landers said.

She says the state receives about one and a half percent of the country’s vaccine supply. But if demand doesn’t go up, Alabama will lose doses. Landers says the federal government could even ask to ship vaccine doses already in Alabama to other areas of the country.

Something else to think about when it comes to reduced demand and reduced doses. Landers said herd immunity is achieved when 60-80 percent of people are vaccinated. Alabama counties are nowhere near that. For example, in Madison County, only about 44 percent of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“By not vaccinating we will likely have a situation to occur later on in the fall where we are surging back if not before. So, it’s a very critical time for the State of Alabama,” Landers said.

At this time, ADPH officials aren’t sure how much the state’s allotment is at risk for cuts. Landers says an emergency use authorization could allow people from ages 12 to 15 to receive the vaccine. If that happens demand for the vaccine in Alabama could increase and maybe prevent a cut to the state’s allotment. 

Even so, state officials want people who haven’t been vaccinated – to seriously consider it.

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