By Jennie Robinson
District 3 Representative
Huntsville City Council President
It has been a year since COVID-19 appeared on the world stage. Since that time, we have discovered Zoom, masks, social distancing, and the incredible thrill of finding that last package of toilet paper on the grocery store shelf. We have also learned that a vaccine is on the way.
There are an estimated 30,000 healthcare workers in Madison County and we are grateful for their courageous service during our community crisis. Healthcare providers in Madison County have made exceptional progress since December 2020 in vaccinating critical frontline personnel.
According to a City of Huntsville post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended a phased vaccine allocation plan once frontline healthcare workers are vaccinated. The next phase will include frontline essential workers at high risk, people over age 75, law enforcement, and people living in homeless shelters and group homes, among others. The third phase targets people ages 65-74 and individuals 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, along with other essential workers. The final phase will extend the vaccine to the general public and all those not covered under the previous phases.
Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell said “We know the public is anxious to learn when they can get the vaccine, and that’s a good thing . . . (When) the vaccine is widely available, it will be well publicized and people will be able to get the shots wherever they would normally get a routine flu shot or vaccine – through a primary care doctor, urgent care, healthcare clinic, drug store or hospital . . . whether they have insurance or not.”
We hope that by the time you read this article, the vaccine will be more widely available. “Please be patient as we work through this process,” asks Mr. Birdwell. “It’s extremely important for everyone to get the shot. Having enough people immune from this disease is the only thing that is going to make it go away.” And remember that everyone needs to continue to mask and separate while the vaccination program takes place over the coming months.
So, for the short term, our “next normal” in 2021 may not look a lot different from our “new normal” in 2020. We will still be wearing masks to protect one another. And we will continue to find new ways to do business, stay in business, and take care of business . . . while staying 6 feet apart.
The difference will be that a miracle vaccine means that there is hope on the horizon in 2021.