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Those ages 75 and older can now receive COVID vaccine at the Morgan County Health Department

Monday, January 18 was the first day that COVID-19 vaccinations were available for this group, but fewer people showed up than expected to receive their vaccines.

DECATUR, Ala. — The Morgan County Health Department's COVID-19 vaccine clinic for those ages 75 and older had a lower participant turnout than expected.

"There are so many people in Alabama who need and want the COVID vaccine, that the decision was made, that we would keep the health departments open on [Martin Luther King Jr. Day] in order to offer the vaccine, and we will offer it as long as we have vaccine available," said Judy Smith, the area administrator for the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

During this national holiday, many businesses close for the day. One explanation for the low turnout could be that many people may have thought that the health department was closed as well. 

A lot of people who fall into the age group have been patiently waiting to get their first dose in order to protect themselves. 

RELATED: People 75 and older can start getting the COVID-19 vaccine in North Alabama next week

"Morgan County alone has over 8,000 individuals that are 75 years of age and older and they also comprise 50% of the folks that end up in the hospital if they get COVID disease," said Smith. 

The Morgan County Health Department saw fewer people than were expected. Because of the low turnout, they are allowing some walk-in appointments, and if this pace continues, they may be allowing more walk-ins for weeks to come. 

"The goal actually was between 120 and 240 [doses], and we intend to keep this up every day this week," said Smith. 

There was some difficulty when it came to people signing up for appointments to receive the vaccine, but the health department says those issues are in the process of being resolved.

RELATED: ADPH: Some pharmacies already have the COVID-19 vaccine available

"So many people just could not get through on the call line, there's still people who need the vaccine and so we're gonna do everything we can to squeeze people in until we get the vaccine to all that want it," said Smith. 

Despite the struggles of getting an appointment, many people are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. 

"There is hope that they can get out, there's hope that they can see their families again, there's hope that they won't have a terrible disease, that ends up in the hospital and potentially ends up in death," said Smith. 

You can sign up for an appointment by calling the COVID-19 vaccine scheduling hotline at 1-855-566-533 if you're eligible to receive the vaccine.

You can also visit the Morgan County Health Department and schedule an appointment in person, located at 3821 US-31 S, Decatur AL, 35603. Be prepared to follow CDC guidelines if you schedule in-person.

From the Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ page:

Visit vaccinefinder.org to find where vaccines are being administered near you. 

For a breakdown of the different phases of who can get the vaccine when, visit the Alabama COVID‐19 Vaccination Allocation Plan

For data on vaccination allocation and administration in Alabama, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.

RELATED: When can I get the COVID vaccine? Alabama COVID vaccine phases, according to ADPH