HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Federal officials say vaccine supply is stable enough to move faster through phased administration while state health officials in Alabama are singing a different tune.
Tuesday, Operation Warp Speed leaders conveyed great confidence is the ability to get vaccines to jurisdictions. So much so, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said states need to be looking toward mass distribution sites while not leaning heavily on a ‘phased’ approach.
Wednesday, Dr. Landers acknowledged what OWP leaders said.
“We recognize that there are parts of our plan that need to be changed, parts of our plan that need to be fixed,” said Dr. Landers.
However, Dr. Landers says ADPH does not see enough vaccines rolling into Alabama like OWP says is happening across the country. As of this moment, the state will not break rank from the current phase of distribution.
“We are reviewing the ability to add more persons in the 65 and above, underlying health problems (category). We know, again that people want to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Landers.
Simply getting vaccinated could soon be hampered by slow data input by vaccine providers. Which the CDC believes is the reason behind low vaccine administration rates. Operation Warp Speed is now telling states to get their acts together by changing how the vaccines are allotted. Instead of a population-based model, vaccine allotments for states will now rely on data that, according to OWS, is not being reported fast enough.
“We try to do that (report vaccine use data) daily at the Alabama Department of Public Health. Certainly within 3-days. And yes, it has been an issue,” said Dr. Landers of state-wide reporting.
Landers says the state has worked with vaccine providers to navigate the backlog. However, it appears the lag will cost the state in the form of lower vaccine allotments from the federal government.
“It could be a little bit of a barrier moving forward. Again we have to remind providers that we have to record those doses in the system so that we get credit for giving those number of doses,” said Dr. Landers.
News 19 has reached out to the Huntsville Hospital system to determine if the system is making preparations for any kind of mass vaccine distribution or if it is even feasible, as called for by OWS. We are waiting to hear back.