Alabama could lose unused COVID-19 vaccine doses to other states if more people do not seek out vaccination, Gov. Kay Ivey said Tuesday.
White House officials told governors on a call Tuesday that the administration will begin reallocating vaccines that are going unused by states to other states where there is need.
The news comes as the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Alabama per day, on average, has declined by more than 40 percent between April 13 and April 30. The assistant state health officer told APR last week that the drop is a sign that fewer people are seeking out vaccines, and data shows younger people aren’t getting vaccinated in the same numbers as older Alabamians.
Alabama and Mississippi have the worst COVID-19 vaccination rates of any states in the U.S., according to data collected by The New York Times.
“Today, the federal government announced on the Governors’ Only call with the White House that states with a diminishing demand for vaccines may have their doses shifted to states with a higher demand,” Ivey said in a statement. “Y’all, we want shots in the arms and off the shelf.”
“If you have not made it a priority to schedule a vaccine, I encourage you to go get the shot as soon as you are able,” Ivey continued. “If you are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please speak to a physician you trust and ask if he or she would recommend it for you. If we don’t use it, we could lose it. This is our ticket back to normal. The vaccine is free and could possibly save your life.”
The decision to shift vaccines to areas of greater demand comes as President Joe Biden aims to have 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by Independence Day, according to NBC News. Currently, 56 percent of adults have had at least one shot and 105 million are fully vaccinated, the news outlet quoted an administration official as saying.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in a statement also encouraged everyone over 16 to get vaccinated.
“Get vaccinated at your earliest opportunity,” Harris said. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, and there is no charge for anyone, regardless of insurance status. Make vaccination a priority for your family, your community and yourself.If you have questions about whether you should be vaccinated, please ask your own doctor or personal healthcare provider.”
The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 12-15 in the coming days. Health experts say that while young people don’t often have the same worse outcomes as some older people, they can still transmit COVID-19 as easily as adults.