Jeffco Health Department says it could take ‘months’ to immunize latest group eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Alabama is expanding the groups eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine come Monday, but it still could take “months” to get them immunized in Jefferson County, where a third of residents will be eligible, the county’s top health official said Monday.

The state has been vaccinating residents 75 years and older. On Monday, that group will be expanded to include all people over 65 and certain essential workers, including corrections officers, clergy and ministers, childcare workers, judiciary members and workers in the postal, manufacturing, public transit and food and agricultural sectors.

But Jefferson County has received a “limited supply” of COVID-19 vaccine and will spend February mostly administering the second dose of the two-dose vaccine, said Dr. Mark Wilson, chief health officer for the county Health Department.

“We’re going to have a large number of people wanting to get vaccine with a very limited supply, and we can expect it to take months to get that number of people vaccinated,” Wilson said Friday during a Facebook livestream. “It’s going to be very frustrating for a lot of people that want to get vaccinated because the supply is so limited.”

Wilson did not say exactly how much vaccine has been supplied to the county.

Deputy Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. David Hicks said the plan on who to vaccinate first is based on groups at the highest risk of exposure, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. He urged anyone who preregistered for the vaccine not to call the county to jump the line.

“On Monday, please be aware that if you are now a newly eligible person, it’s possible you may need several more weeks before you get invited for an appointment,” he said. “Please be patient, we know that there is a high demand, we have not forgotten about you.”

Jim Coker, director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, said the EMA fielded more than 86,000 requests for the vaccine so far.

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