Alabama AHEC providing COVID-19 vaccinations in Coosa, Tallapoosa and Pickens counties

Lack of infrastructure and medical facilities has slowed vaccination rates in some rural counties.
Written by: Allison Abney
Media contact: Bob Shepard


drive.thru.2The Alabama Area Health Education Centers, or AHEC, Network has activated its wide-ranging plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines to rural communities across the state. AHEC aims to provide vaccines to underserved areas focusing on underrepresented populations and areas where health care accessibility is limited.

The network, working with the Alabama Department of Public Health, began vaccination clinics in Coosa and Tallapoosa counties in late March. Both need and demand remain high in Alabama’s black belt, so vaccine clinics will begin in Pickens County beginning April 7 through the end of May.

“The rollout of vaccines in Alabama has been challenging, and in many cases, the people of our most underserved rural communities have been at the back of the line,” said William A. Curry, M.D.,  executive director of AHEC’s vaccine initiative and associate dean for Primary Care and Rural Health at UAB. “The good news is that now vaccines have become more readily available, and we have an effective network to deliver them. It is a great opportunity to offer our support in ending the pandemic. We are honored to be able to start in Alabama’s black belt counties that have, historically, faced major challenges with access to health care. COVID-19 has only made those difficulties more apparent.”  

The network partnership comprises the Alabama Statewide AHEC Program Office — housed within the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Family and Community Medicine — and its five regional AHEC centers, the Alabama Civil Air Patrol, UAB Infectious Disease Laboratory, Alabama Emergency Management Agency, Alabama Department of Public Health and instrumental community partners identified by region.

For the Pickens County arm of the network’s initiative, key partnerships have been developed with both the Pickens County EMA and American Medical Solutions, based in Tuscaloosa and adjacent to the service area. Local partnerships have proven to be integral to success when conducting outreach efforts to Alabama’s rural communities. 

A female healthcare worker is wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) head cover, face mask, face shield, and gloves while administering the COVID-19 vaccine to a black male at the UAB COVID-19 Vaccination Site at Parker High School on February 10, 2021/.The vaccination effort will be a massive undertaking that will require the commitment and drive of partners throughout Alabama’s health care community. Rural vaccination efforts are particularly difficult due to disparity of access and shortages of hospitals and health care professionals. The aim of the Alabama AHEC Network is to operationalize a strategy to best deliver vaccines to those areas that need it most, in addition to building a cohesive public health model to educate patients and alleviate fears so that community members are willing to complete the prescribed vaccination regimen.

DATES:                     April 7-May 29 | Wednesday, Friday and Saturday  
TIMES:                      10 a.m.-4 p.m.
LOCATION:              Pickens County Service Center Building
                                 155 Reform Street
                                 Carrollton, AL 35447
REGISTRATION:      Call 256-50-COVID or visit www.getyourcovidshotnow.com