State lawmakers voice concerns about COVID-19 vaccine distribution
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State lawmakers expressed their concerns Thursday to State Health Officer Scott Harris regarding the coronavirus vaccine rollout.
Several state departments, including the Alabama Department of Public Health, presented their budget requests to state lawmakers. Leaders used that time to question Harris.
“We all have constituents that are very frustrated, very anxious, very angry, a lot of them about the vaccine,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to Harris at the hearing.
Other lawmakers asked for a plan on how ADPH plans to distribute to the masses once there are more doses available to the state.
“Are we looking at any type of plans, like, open up civic centers and close down big box stores?” asked Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark.
Harris acknowledged many of their questions and concerns.
“The fundamental problem is there’s not enough to go around,” Harris explained. “There’s simply not.”
About 700,000 Alabamians are eligible for the vaccine, but the state only receives about 50,000 doses each week, according to Harris.
“I believe in in about a week and a half, we’re going to have to have large scale clinics and every one of our public health districts throughout the state,” Harris said.
Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, said the process to receive her COVID-19 vaccine in Madison county went smoothly. She said the process took about an hour.
“I met the qualifications,” Hall explained. “So I decided, with the help of my family that it was wise that I go ahead and do it.”
Hall would like to see a similar process for others in the state. Hall also wants vaccine distribution locations at areas where people can easily access them.
“Whether that is an voted voting precinct, whether that is any local church, public health center, or a gymnasium,” she said. “Areas within the community that people are familiar with.”
At the budget hearing, Harris requested $5.2 million more, putting the total request for fiscal year 2022 to about $114 million.
The increase request would go toward the Children’s Health Insurance Program, communicable diseases, environmental services, licensure and certification, data analytics, office of health equity, and family planning program.
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