After a slow start, Alabama’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is picking up pace, according to state Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
“Alabama as a whole has done a great job,” Harris said during a media call Thursday. “The past five weeks, we’ve given out well over 100,000 vaccines. And last week, even with all of the weather delays, it was our second best week that we have had so far.”
The state has administered more than 800,000 doses. Harris said federal programs are helping to increase supply and reach more residents.
Walmart, which recently began vaccinating residents in 74 Alabama locations, announced this week that it will soon expand to more stores. CVS Pharmacy also began offering vaccine appointments Thursday in select cities around the state.
Harris said starting next week, the state expects to receive anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 doses a week from the federal government, but that still isn’t enough to vaccinate the close to 1.5 million residents who are currently eligible.
Alabama could get a boost if the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is easier to store and administer, is granted emergency use authorization by the federal government.
“One shot opens up a lot of doors for us,” Harris said. “There are a lot of logistical problems that get solved by having a single dose vaccine.”
Harris said he has heard concerns about the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but said it is as effective at preventing death and serious illness from COVID-19 as the Pfizer and Moderna products.