First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Alabama

First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Alabama

From staff and wire reports

The initial nearly 41,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine began arriving at three sites in Alabama on Monday and more will be delivered today.

The Pfizer vaccine, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration late last week, is being shipped directly to 15 pre-identified Alabama hospitals which have capacity for ultra cold storage, the Alabama Department of Public Health said Monday.

Because of security and logistical concerns, ADPH did not provide the names of the hospitals. UAB said its hospital would receive 10,725 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be administered to health care staff, other Jefferson County hospitals and EMS providers on its campuses “as soon as logistically possible.”

The first batches of the vaccine are being prioritized for health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The doses arriving Monday and today are going to hospital health care workers, EMS providers, physician offices, and other hospital staff not associated with the point of distribution, according to ADPH.

The vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart. Additional vaccine doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are expected at weekly intervals, and the second doses of the vaccine will be included in follow-up allocations. A recall system has been established to ensure follow-up doses.

Another vaccine from Moderna is expected in the state once it receives federal approval. But health officials have warned that it will likely be summer before the state has enough of the vaccines for the general population, including younger and healthy people.

Cullman Regional Medical Center said it planned to begin vaccinating workers Tuesday at a clinic that was set up for administering the shots.

“We hope to eventually provide vaccines to all members of our health care team. However, we are currently working to vaccinate those frontline team members that are at highest risk of exposure,” Dr. William Smith, the chief medical officer at the hospital in Cullman, said in a statement.

Additional shipments of vaccine will arrive statewide as the shots begin, with nearly 41,000 doses expected in all in the state’s initial round. The first vaccinations are reserved for health care workers who are most at risk because of their jobs; members of the general public will have to wait.

Almost 300,000 people in Alabama have contracted the virus, and COVID-19 has killed more than 4,100 people in Alabama. State health regulators said they have loosened licensing rules to allow more out-of-state doctors to work in the state, where intensive care beds are filling up and medical workers are among the ill.

The Alabama Department of Corrections, which has one of the nation’s highest rates of inmate deaths from COVID-19, said three more elderly inmates had died of the illness caused by the coronavirus. All three men had serious health problems before contracting the virus, the agency said in a statement.