Just days after Alabama’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts were ranked last in the United States, state health officials announced a new policy in an attempt to accelerate deployment: If suppliers do not use up the doses made available to them as quickly as possible, the already limited supply will be removed and sent elsewhere in the State where it can be administered “in due course”.
“In response to concerns that some suppliers are failing to deliver their vaccine lots in a timely manner, [Alabama Department of Public Health] will begin withdrawing vaccine supplies from vendors who do not administer vaccines on a timely basis, ”Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) officials said in a press release on Wednesday.
“Any unused vaccine will be redirected to other providers who will administer the vaccine more quickly. ADPH is surveying all providers in the state to ensure that all doses administered have been correctly reported to us and to determine if they are. there is a vaccine available that needs to be redistributed elsewhere. “
Currently, county health departments are required to administer “all vaccine stocks every week until there is no vaccine left,” ADHD officials said.
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“Knowing that some small rural counties might not be able to donate the vaccine at this volume, ADPH is working in partnership with community providers to quickly distribute the vaccine to the public,” they said. To assist with these efforts in the counties, ADHD employees “have been reoriented from their existing functions.”
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine tracking shows that Alabama has fallen behind the rest of the country in terms of immunization efforts, averaging just over 2,800 vaccines per 100,000. inhabitants Wednesday.
The state, which opened appointments for residents 75 and older and first responders in addition to healthcare workers on Monday, administered about 139,200 of the 483,275 doses distributed, according to federal estimates.
There is, however, a discrepancy between state and federal government estimates.
The ADPH data dashboard currently shows that more than 200,000 doses have been administered to date.
Alabama health officials said in the press release that the department is working with the federal health agency to “resolve data issues.”
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“Contrary to some reports, the number of unused doses from previous allocations does not affect the amount of doses the [CDC] license for Alabama. ADPH is working with the CDC to resolve data issues to ensure that Alabama receives credit for every dose administered in the state, ”the statement read.
“No vaccine dose in Alabama has been rejected, and the allocations are based on population, so there is no benefit for residents of larger counties over smaller ones,” they added.
In a statement, Dr. Scott Harris, the state’s health official, tried to clarify the “misunderstandings” regarding Alabama’s vaccination efforts.
“Anyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine deserves and will receive one, because we are committed to making sure that no vaccine is left unused on the shelves. We are doing everything possible to get vaccines in the arms as quickly as possible, “he said.” The biggest obstacle to vaccination remains the limited supply of vaccines. We are trying to manage expectations because the schedule for receiving the vaccine has not changed and we cannot give people a resource that we do not yet have. “
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The state’s new policy to speed up vaccination efforts follows similar threats launched in New York by state governor Andrew Cuomo. The governor said on Monday that hospitals that delivered their allocated doses promptly will receive more, while those that have been late in using their doses will not be allocated additional doses.
“For the least performing installations, we will give them less of the new allocation, if any. They’ll all have enough to make their staff, but we want to make sure that the fastest facilities – the best performing facilities – get a bigger share of the new allocation because we want it out, ”Cuomo said. . “We don’t want it to stay on the shelf. So those who can immunize faster will get more of the new allowance.”
Alexandria Hein of Fox News contributed to this report.