Alabama lawmakers write letter on COVID-19 distribution problems

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MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) — Alabama’s slow delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine has some state lawmakers asking the Alabama Department of Public health to quickly fix what’s wrong, so the state’s supply of vaccine isn’t cut short. 

Four Republican state lawmakers signed a letter addressing their concerns. They were led by State Senator Jim McClendon of Springville who is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

McClendon and the other senators are worried about reports Alabama is at the bottom of vaccination rates in the nation. That in turn could reduce the amount of vaccine the government sends to Alabama.

“When we don’t report what we’re using, the CDC frowns upon that. They say, ‘Look, if you’re not going to use what we send ya, we’re not going to send you some more,'” McClendon said.

In the letter, the lawmakers suggest four ideas health officials could do right away to correct the number of vaccinations being reported to the government.

“How many doses did we get?  How many did we ship out into the state? How man did we use? And how many are left over?  And by the way, give me that leftover figure every day,” McClendon said.

Meanwhile, ADPH released the following statement in response to the senator’s letter.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) would like to provide a response to the information included in a letter that was distributed to the news media earlier today by Senators
Jim McClendon, Greg Albritton, Tom Whatley, and Randy Price and to correct any
misunderstanding of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process.
The department is in regular communication with our elected officials in Alabama and has
described the process of our weekly per capita vaccine allotments in great detail. The number of
COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to Alabama is based on our population, and is not determined
by how much vaccine is on hand in the state. The number of doses remaining from previous
allocations does not affect the number of doses that the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) authorizes for Alabama.
ADPH has been in ongoing conversations with CDC to provide our numbers in Alabama.
While the department works with CDC to resolve data issues that have been encountered due to a
response of this size, it does not in any way affect the number of doses that Alabama receives.
The data to answer each of the questions asked in the letter is publicly available on the ADPH
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard, which can be accessed on the ADPH website
and has been updated as of January 19, 2021. The data from the CDC is
available on its vaccine data tracker website, although CDC has not updated Alabama’s information since January 15, 2021.
Providers are federally required to report within 24 hours of administering vaccine. ADPH uses
the Immunization Patient Registry with Integrated Technology (ImmPRINT) system to collect
this information. Staff works with providers if assistance is needed.
The biggest obstacle to vaccination in Alabama is the limited supply of vaccine. Alabama
currently has approximately 676,000 people in Alabama who qualify to receive a COVID-19
vaccine, but since our state is allocated only around 50,000 – 60,000 primary doses each week,
the supply is not available to reach these numbers at this time.
ADPH receives thousands of calls, e-mails, and social media messages every day from people
who are providing suggestions to help the vaccination process move faster. We appreciate any
recommendations, and want the public to rest assured that ADPH has a tremendous staff of
physicians, nurses, public health experts, and other medical professionals who continue to work
tirelessly on the vaccine rollout in Alabama. A vaccination plan of this size is truly
unprecedented, and ADPH is grateful for everyone’s continued patience as we work to put an
end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alabama Department of Public Health

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