Alabama & U.S. Vaccine Update - March 2021

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

An Updated Look at the Alabama Vaccine Plan and Other Vaccine Plans Across the U.S.




In January, most states deviated from the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice’s (ACIP) recommendations for vaccine phases. Most notable was making those age 65 and older eligible for vaccination. There were several other changes that varied from state to state. Recently, there has been a trend among several states to vaccinate those age 50 and older, and by age brackets.


Alabama


Alabama is currently vaccinating eligible groups in Phase 1B as well as those age 65 and older from Phase 1C. (See update below) According to Bloomberg, Alabama still ranks among the lowest of U.S. states in number of vaccines administered.


The “Alabama COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Plan” and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) website state that the vaccine rollout document is a “draft and will be updated as additional guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is available.” People reading that statement might assume that all groups in the Alabama plan originated from ACIP. However, vaccinating "young adults age 18 to 30," which is an eligible group in Phase 2, is not a specific CDC ACIP committee recommendation. That age bracket likely came from a 2020 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.


The “continuity of Government strategy” that Alabama added in late January is also not a specific ACIP committee recommendation. That change added “state legislators, supreme court and appellate judges, constitutional officers, and cabinet agency heads” to the eligibility list. This grouping was derived from an advisory memorandum from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). ACIP's "essential worker" job categories originate from that CISA list.


Alabama added those age 65 and older to the eligibility list in late January. That age group is still listed as being in Alabama Phase 1C. ACIP has recommended moving into new phases with overlap when vaccine supply is sufficient. However, Alabama did not move this age group's eligibility up as a result of vaccine availability. Most states, including all states bordering Alabama, made that change earlier in January, and Alabama followed soon thereafter.


Alabama is not required to follow any specific guidance from ACIP and can decide on what groups are eligible in each phase.

The trend of moving away from following specific ACIP recommended phases has continued across the U.S.

In the Deep South


Mississippi and South Carolina will begin vaccinating those age 55 to 64, and those with certain medical conditions, beginning in March. Tennessee will begin vaccinating those age 55 to 64, as well as those with high-risk medicals conditions, in March or April, . In Georgia, caregivers of all ages have been eligible in their Phase 1A+ group. Florida has begun to offer the vaccine to those under age 65 who are determined medically vulnerable by a physician, as well as to K-12 employees, law enforcement officers and firefighters age 50 and older. Louisiana has opened up eligibility to those age 55 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions.


Across the U.S.


In Indiana, those age 55 to 59 became eligible on March 2nd, and ages 50 to 54 on March 3rd. They are moving quickly through the age groups as those age 60 to 64 were just added to their eligibility list on February 23rd. They are also including people with specific medical conditions during the same phase, including those with cancer. Indiana’s vaccine website states “Indiana is using an age-based strategy for vaccine eligibility to have the greatest impact on preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.” CDC data shows that over 95% of all Covid-19 deaths occur among adults age 50 and older.


West Virginia, who has received accolades for being one of the top states for getting residents in their state vaccinated, is focusing on those age 50 and older after their Phase 1-B. Those age 50 and older will be higher in their priority list as they move through their vaccine phases 1-C and 1-D. Beginning in their Phase 2-A, West Virginia will vaccinate based on age and certain medical conditions approved by doctors.


In Connecticut and Utah, those age 50 and older are currently eligible for vaccination. In Arizona, seniors age 55 and older are now eligible.


In Alaska, people age 50 and older with high-risk medical conditions, as well as select essential workers age 50 and older, are currently eligible for vaccination. Caregivers who assist someone age 65 and older are also eligible. Michigan now includes those age 50 and older with high-risk medical conditions and disabilities, and will include everybody age 50 and older later in March.


The state of Washington decided early on not to include all essential workers in their Phase 1 “high risk critical worker” group, but only those age 50 and older who are at higher risk of severe illness or death. In addition, they’ve also been including those age 50 and older who are in multi-generational households.


In Maine and Kentucky, people who are age 60 and older are now eligible. Maine will add those age 50 to 59 in April. In Colorado, those age 60 and older are currently eligible in their Phase 1B.3, and those age 50 and older are in their Phase 1B.4.


The Alabama Free Press .com will continue to monitor changes to vaccine plans in Alabama and other states.


Updated (March 14, 2021): On March 12th, Alabama announced expansion of eligibility for Covid-19 vaccinations to include the remaining groups listed in Phase 1C. These changes to the “Alabama COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Plan” will go into effect on March 22nd.


The revised plan adds groups who were not previously mentioned in Alabama vaccine plan updates. Seniors who are age 55 to 64 will become eligible. Adding this age group follows the pattern of many other states mentioned here.


“Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities” was a new category added to the eligibility list. “Other medical conditions as determined by your medical provider” was a new addition to the “high-risk medical conditions” category. The latter expands on the specific high-risk medical conditions list put out by the CDC’s ACIP committee.


If Alabama makes all of these groups eligible at the same time that would add well over half the state’s adult population to the eligibility list on March 22nd.