Alabamians 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccine; Fully vaccinated can resume pre-pandemic activities, CDC says

Almost 4 million Alabamians 16 and older became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines April 5, the governor and state health officer announced April 2. As of May 13, the state expanded eligibility to those 12 and older.  “I encourage every Alabamian to get your shots,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. The state continues to receive between 125,000 and 130,000 vaccine doses each week, and every county has multiple providers.

As of July 7, more than 1.5 million Alabama residents had been fully vaccinated and 1.8 million had received at least one dose of vaccine. (See CDC guidance for the fully vaccinated). On May 4, the president set a goal for 70% of the U.S. adult population to have one shot and 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated by July 4th. Alabama’s state health office said close to 70% of the state, or 3.5 million Alabamians, will need to either be fully vaccinated or have antibodies from previous infections in order for the state to reach a level of immunity to stop COVID’s spread in our state.

Pfizer has the only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for 12- to 17-year-olds. On May 13, Alabama expanded vaccine eligibility to those age 12 and older. On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to those 12 to 15. The CDC reviewed and adopted Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices guidance by May 12. The Alabama Department of Public Health is following the CDC guidance. In addition to other providers, ADPH expects a number of pediatricians in Alabama to participate in vaccination of persons 12 and above with the Pfizer product.

A map of vaccine provider locations is available on the vaccination provider tab of the Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard. Appointments can be made directly with private providers, such as pharmacies (348 statewide) and hospitals (99). Check with a provider in your area using the appointment or wait list system they have in place.

Alabama Vaccine Dashboard
Find a provider near you on the dashboard’s provider tab

State Asks Healthcare Providers to Recommend COVID-19 Vaccine

Since March 22, The Alabama Department of Public Health extended COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to all critical workers (Phase 1C) as well as those age 55 and older. Restaurant workers were included in Phase 1C. Other frontline workers, including grocery and convenience store employees, became eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations Feb. 8.

Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination for Critical Workers
CDC guidance updated May 6, 2021

On May 13 , the CDC updated its guidance for the fully vaccinated.

The CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing, EXCEPT WHERE REQUIRED by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms, according to the guidance.

Loosened mask and social distancing recommendations provide new incentives for Alabamians to be vaccinated for COVID-19
May 14 ADPH news release

Federal Retail Pharmacy Program
Since Feb. 11, vaccines have been available at select chain pharmacies and independent pharmacy networks nationwide under a federal program. The independent pharmacy networks include Good Neighbor and Health Mart pharmacies. Check your pharmacy’s website to find out if vaccine is available. Vaccines provided through this federal public-private partnership goes directly to the partner pharmacies and is not part of Alabama’s allocation of vaccines.

Activated CVS pharmacies allow patients to walk in to schedule a vaccine appointment. Eligible Alabamians also can go to the CVS website COVID-19 vaccine page, click on Alabama to locate stores with available appointments, then schedule a vaccine,  possibly as soon as one hour later. Staff will help walk-ins find an available appointment if none are available at that time. Select CVS stores began administering the vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds May 13. Publix also offers walk-in scheduling and scheduling vaccine appointments online. Seventy-six Walgreens pharmacies joined the program in late March and when the Pfizer vaccine was approved for those 12 and older began offering the vaccine for all allowed ages. Eligible Alabamians can check vaccine availability at a Walgreens near you. The website will prompt you to sign in to or create a Walgreens pharmacy account.  In late March,  Winn-Dixie locations began offering vaccines in Alabama. Some 121 Walmart pharmacies in Alabama are administering all three available vaccines and offering mass vaccine clinics in select counties.

See the Federal Pharmacy Tab on the state’s vaccine dashboard to find a pharmacy in the federal program near you

>> Link to the federal program on the CDC website

National Guard Assists in Equitable Distribution Efforts
ADPH is making a concerted effort to reach vulnerable communities with the state’s vaccine supply.  The effort is intended to reach those at the lowest rank on the Social Vulnerability Index. Earlier,  Alabama National Guard members served as vaccinators in 24 mostly rural counties in the Black Belt and Wiregrass areas of the state. Since May 10, smaller National Guard teams have been traveling to each of the state’s eight public health districts for mobile clinics.

To facilitate expansion of the Alabama Vaccine Allocation Plan, ADPH operates an online portal that allows Alabamians to check their vaccination eligibility and make appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at county health departments. The department asks that Alabamians cancel appointments at health departments if they receive shots from another provider. The portal also provides up-to-date information about drive-through and walk-in clinics being offered. NEW Beginning June 1, the county health departments in the east central portion of the state are offering free walk-in Moderna vaccine clinics, no appointment needed. The same has been true in the southwest part of the state since May 3. The Jefferson County Health Department updated its vaccine site list June 1. Find the Mobile County Health Department clinics at the link.

Access ADPH’s Online Portal

CDC U.S. Vaccination Tracking Dashboard

Quarantine for Vaccinated Individuals;  Health Recommendations
On Feb. 19, the state health officer announced Alabama has issued quarantine guidance for vaccinated individuals that corresponds with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control. The state health officer determines the quarantine options for Alabama.

Alabama’s Isolation and Quarantine Timeframes

Voluntary or Mandatory Vaccination for Employees?
In a Feb. 4 article, Alabama Retail’s labor law partner, Lehr Middlebrooks Vreeland & Thompson poses some practical considerations for employers considering requiring employees to be vaccinated. Employers generally have a right to require vaccination, but may want to opt for a voluntary program, especially while supply is tight and much of the population is ineligible based on the state’s allocation plan.

On Friday, March 5, the CDC updated its workplace vaccination guidance that encourages free, on-site COVID-19 vaccinations at businesses. It also encourages establishing policies that allow employees to take paid leave to seek COVID-19 vaccination in the community and provide or support transportation to off-site vaccination clinics.

CDC Workplace Vaccination Program

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends Alabama providers use the J&J COVID-19 vaccine with a warning for women who are 18 to 49 years old.

Available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks,” the ADPH release states. On April 23, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended lifting the previous pause in the vaccine’s use.

The J&J vaccine has a very low but increased risk of a rare condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, for women younger than 50. Women younger than 50 should be aware that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available in addition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, ADPH officials said.

Originally posted at 11:40 a.m. Feb. 2, 2021; Last updated at 4 p.m., July 7, 2021