Alabama to face challenges distributing COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 7:58 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama will face challenges the next several months as the massive undertaking begins to vaccinate millions of people.

“The biggest challenge right now is just the logistics of getting this vaccine product out to many different places and figuring out how to give it fairly,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is working on a plan to ensure county health departments, hospitals, clinics and other doctor’s offices would receive the vaccine in both rural and urban areas.

Harris said some health care providers are not used to doing vaccines.

“They probably don’t have the billing infrastructure set up to do that or the expertise to do that,” he said. “So we’re essentially saying, please do this for free.”

Harris said providing the vaccine to the public comes at a cost that some health care providers may not be able to pay. He said it should not cost the public any money to get the vaccine. However, Harris did say the federal government is allowing providers to charge an administration fee for people who have insurance to cover that cost.

Harris said right now the federal government provides a couple million dollars to Alabama which comes out to about 50 cents for every person they are trying to vaccinate.

“So, we want the feds to please consider all the other expenses that are involved in this process,” Harris said. “Handling and storage and breaking it up and just person power involved and doing it.”

Another big challenge is making sure there’s public buy-in.

“I’m very concerned about how we communicate to the, to the masses of the public, to get the confidence of people to be able to take the vaccination,” Senator Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said.

15 Alabama hospitals are expecting to receive about 40-thousand doses of the coronavirus vaccine next week, the state health officer says. Health care providers and nursing homes residents will be first priority to receive the vaccine.

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