Virus Outbreak Alabama Vaccine

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey receives her second COVID-19 vaccine shot at Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery on Tuesday. [MICKEY WELSH/THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER VIA AP]

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday urged people to be patient amid the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, but to take the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.

A state hotline has been overwhelmed with calls from people seeking appointments for the shots next week when the state begins making them available to people over 75.

The governor said the state is “working to get vaccine in the arms of people as soon as the supplies come in.”

“I just want to encourage our people to be patient, stay calm and you’ll get your shot,” Ivey said Tuesday. “I want to encourage everybody to get in line — and be patient as you wait.”

Ivey addressed reporters after receiving her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Baptist South Hospital. The governor, as public officials have done in other states, took the vaccine to demonstrate its safety.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said supply has been the limiting factor in getting out the shots.

The state of 5 million people has been allotted about 271,000 doses so far, received about 240,000 of those and has given 87,000 vaccinations, Harris said.

“I think the point we’d like people to understand is there is just not enough vaccine at this point. We know everybody who needs one is going to get one at some time but it’s just not there yet,” Harris said.

The first round of shots was designated for health care workers and long-term care residents and workers. That's about 377,000 people, according to state health officials.

County health departments next week will begin giving shots to people 75 and older, as well as first responders, but appointments are required for the vaccinations. A state appointment line was swamped with calls, receiving more than 1 million in its first day in operation.

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