What you need to know this week about the COVID vaccine in Birmingham

A CVS Nurse gives a patient a vaccine.
Don’t throw away your shot! Photo via CVS’ Facebook

All things vaccines! From mask mandates to appointment sign-ups to new vaccination sites to personal experiences, we’ve got everything you need to know right now about the COVID-19 shot.

Who is eligible

COVID Vaccine site at BHM airport
Check out Birmingham’s newest vaccine site, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Photo via Birmingham Airport Authority

As of April 5, the state of Alabama announced that everyone age 16 and up is elligible. This new eligbility is regardless of health conditions or work. This is a big change from the previous eligibility requirements, which included frontline workers, teachers, media, and other high-contact professions.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently available for teenagers ages 16 and up. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available for people 18 and older.

If you need help registering for your shot, check out this handy registration flyer.

Where can you get a vaccine

UAB COVD-19 Lab
UAB researcher performing preclinical testing of a potential vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 virus. Photo via UAB

Thanks to Pfizer, Moderna and now Johnson & Johnson, Alabama has a lot of shots to go around. Just in Birmingham, UAB has opened up several mass vaccination locations. Other places like Walmart, CVS and American Family Care are also offering the COVID vaccine to those eligible.

See a list of places to sign up to get your shot below:

Birmingham has several mass vaccination sites:

The state COVID dashboard shows a map of all vaccination sites in Alabama. Local pharmaicies like Ritch’s Pharmacy are also offering COVID vaccinations.

Call Jefferson County Department of Health’s vaccination hotline Monday-Saturday 8AM-8PM at (205) 858-2221 if you have more questions.

Personal experiences with the vaccine

vaccine seflie
While the second shot is considered a little rough, the only symptom most people experience after getting vaccinated is a light feeling of hope. Photo via Claire Hancock for Bham Now

As COVID vaccines are ramping up, you probably know a few people who are already vaccinated. Personally, I recieved my first vaccine this week and besides a sore arm, I’m feeling great. Several other members of the Bham Now team are finishing up their second shots.

I think it’s safe to say things are looking a little brighter.

Below hear from Jami Sentissi, a Biorisk Manager and Registered Biosafety Professional with over 20 years of experience. She recieved her first vaccine dose yesterday at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, and currently works to ensure the safety of COVID vaccines for recipients, administrators and the community.

“We help Clinical Trial Sites complete required NIH safety Risk Assessment reviews for Human Gene Transfer clinical trials.

We are looking at the risk of the study agent to the people using the study agent, the environment and the surrounding community to ensure that safety controls are in place to reduce the risk of potential exposures or incidents happening.

Think, ‘what happens if the nurse giving the vaccine (study agent) gets accidently exposed to the study agent in a way it was not intended or a dose not intended.'”

Jami Sentissi

Keep masking up

Part of UAB's healthcare staff all masked up
Keep masking up while the US waits on herd immunity. Photo via UAB Medicine’s Facebook

Just because the vaccine rollout is increasing herd immunity in the US and Alabama, it doesn’t mean that we’re in the clear to start walking around with naked faces. Health professionals still recommend wearing masks in public and staying six feet away from other people at all possible times. Check out this report from UAB on herd immunity to learn more.

While the Alabama mask mandate ends this Friday, April 9, Birmingham announced this week that it will continue its current mandate through May 24. So if you’re going out and about in Birmingham (and anywhere else), keep that mask on.

Check out Bham Now’s past vaccine and mask updates:

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