Hope is Here: Update on COVID-19 Vaccination Plan in Huntsville
Published on December 30, 2020
Huntsville healthcare leaders say they’re making progress in aggressively vaccinating frontline personnel, categorized as phase 1a by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
“We’ve given out 74% of 6,800 Pfizer vaccines we received in two weeks,” said David Spillers, CEO of Huntsville Hospital. “That’s pretty robust.”
Crestwood Medical Center has also administered about 900 of the Moderna vaccines. Per day, Crestwood has the capacity to vaccinate approximately 150 people and Huntsville Hospital can manage about 500.
There are an estimated 30,000 healthcare workers in Madison County.
“We have the ability to get there but we need supplies,” said Spillers. “We can’t set up a schedule that goes out two weeks until we have more doses of the vaccine.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended a four-phased vaccine allocation plan. Phase 1 will focus on frontline healthcare workers who have direct interaction with the public in providing medical care. In Madison County, this includes hospital workers, physicians, HEMSI, Fire & Rescue personnel and some Huntsville Police. Phase 1b will include frontline essential workers at high risk, those over age 75, law enforcement, and people living in homeless shelters and group homes, among others. Phase 1c targets people ages 65-74 and those individuals ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, along with other essential workers. Phase 2 will extend the vaccine to the general public and all those not covered under the previous phases.
Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell said ADPH will determine when the state moves forward with phase 1b vaccinations. Many nursing homes and retirement communities are already able to vaccinate residents through a federal contract with Walgreens and drug stores.
“We know the public is anxious to learn when they can get the vaccine, and that’s a good thing,” said Birdwell. “ADPH has already said that 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. There is no cost to the patient whether they have insurance or not.”
The Huntsville-area COVID-19 leadership team reminds the public that everyone needs to continue to mask and separate while the vaccination program takes place over the coming months.
“Please be patient as we work through this process,” said 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.”
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