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Vaccine eligibility extended

More than 4 million people in Alabama are now eligible to receive a vaccination for COVID-19.

On Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that the Alabama Department of Public Health will extend eligibility of COVID-19 vaccinations to children 16-years-old and older. By extending the eligibility to the youngest age group, about 4 million of Alabama’s 4.9  million people are now eligible to receive a vaccination.

“I have committed to the people of Alabama that we are on a path forward, and while there is more work to be done, I remain hopeful and optimistic in where we are going. Recent findings from the CDC show preliminary data suggesting that vaccinated individuals do not appear to be spreading the virus, so that is hopeful, underscores the effectiveness of the vaccine and is yet another reason to get the shot,” Ivey said. “Truly, this vaccine is our ticket back to normal life. We are so close to getting COVID-19 in the rearview, and until then, we should all keep wearing our masks, get vaccinated and use the common sense the good Lord gave us.”

Vaccinations for children under 16-years have yet to be approved.

The Pfizer-BioNTech is only approved for people 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is only for adults. Both vaccines are in trials for younger children. The Oxford-AstraZenica and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are scheduled for trials in children later this summer. However, according to MIT Technology Review, children under 16 only make up 13 percent of reported cases and less than 3 percent of hospitalizations. The age group also has less than .21 percent of reported deaths. Also, the Review, states when children have symptoms of COVID-19, the symptoms are far less severe than in adults, but the reason why is unknown.

To date, Alabama has administered 1.7 million vaccinations, or about 35 percent of the population.

“In the initial phases of our vaccine allocation plan, we have given just over 1.7 million shots. These shots have gone to more than 1.1 million Alabamians most at risk of illness and death due to COVID-19,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “As progress has been made, equitable vaccine distribution has been and remains a driving force in immunizing state residents.

“The increased supply of safe and effective vaccines means all adults who wish to be vaccinated are now eligible to receive the protection vaccines offer.”

Locally, Pike Drugs in Brundidge has vaccines available. Call 334-536-0205 for an appointment.

Anyone who received a first-stage vaccination at the March 23 clinic at Brundidge Station will be able to receive their second dose Saturday from 2-6 p.m.

There will be an Alabama National Guard vaccination clinic Thursday at the Try Sportsplex from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The clinic is free of charge for all eligible Alabamaians. At this time, appointments are not required but, individuals are asked to wear a mask.

Ivey’s mandatory mask order is set to expire Friday at 5 p.m.