HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: Huntsville Hospital received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is here in Huntsville! The vaccine arriving at Huntsville International Airport around 7 Tuesday morning through Fed EX.
The doses are being prepped for administering to frontline healthcare workers beginning Wednesday. In the meantime, the vaccine is safely stored in those large ultra-cold refrigerators.
Nine months after the first reported case of COVID-19 in Huntsville, the Rocket City has its first allotment of the Pfizer vaccine.
“We sit around the table and we talk about the phases,” said Senior Vice President of Huntsville Hospital Tracy Doughty. “We talk through a person entering a vaccine site to how long it will take to do the paperwork, to how many steps they will take to get to the vaccine, to how many stations we have.”
The vaccine will not be mandatory for Huntsville Hospital employees but an internal survey shows around 75% of the staff is planning to get the vaccine.
“We have about 50% saying first chance I can get it. Another 25-30% the second chance and then we have people who don’t get vaccines at all or are worried about it.”
Frontline caregivers and other staff who consistently work in direct contact with COVID-19 patients will be first to make an appointment for the vaccination.
“For example, the employees with the Fever and Flu clinic, we know they are on the front line of COVID every day. The manager there will pick out the ones who want to go to make sure we aren’t getting five people from the same shift or same day.”
Twenty-one days later those employees will follow up with a second vaccine to ensure efficacy.
“For the first 6,825 we will reorder the second dose. The state is keeping that for us. They got the second dose ready for us we just got to order it.” Huntsville Hospital plans to ship some vaccines around the region to help employees outside of the metro area. It is still unclear when the hospital will receive another allotment of vaccines.
“We hope so, we are getting some indication we might get some by the end of the year or the first of next year, but it is still so early in the process.”
According to hospital administrators if you are a front-line health care worker who has already had the virus you are still eligible to receive the vaccine.
The first vaccine doses will be given at 7:30 Wednesday morning.
ORIGINAL: A spokesperson for Huntsville Hospital said the hospital will not receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.
They anticipate the vaccines will arrive Tuesday.
Beds are currently filling up at Huntsville Hospital, putting a stop to elective surgeries at the Main Campus and at Women’s and Children’s.
Senior Vice President of the hospital, Tracy Doughty, said beds are at a premium, and so are nurses to take care of patients in those beds.
Currently, there are 212 COVID-19 positive inpatients in Madison County. All of the Madison Street Tower was converted to ICU beds to hold the positive patients.
The Madison Street Tower has four floors with 21 beds, meaning all the 84 beds were converted to help with COVID-19 response.
Doughty couldn’t give an exact number of how many staff members are out because of the virus or being exposed to the virus, but said the vaccine is coming at a really needed time.
“We’re going to make sure our partner hospitals in our system and out of our system get their allocation out of our allotment,” said Doughty. “Physicians offices in the region and EMS providers, so we are prepared to take care of all of those vaccinations.”
Hospital staff anticipates it taking two weeks for the roughly seven thousand doses to be distributed to area front line workers.
Doughty said nursing homes and long-term facilities will not be getting any of these doses. He said it would be up to area drug stores to provide those.
The governor said 15 hospitals will receive the vaccine sometime this week. She said three will receive the vaccine Monday. Twelve others, including Huntsville Hospital, will receive the vaccine Tuesday.
An official with Huntsville Hospital said the health system expects to receive 6,825 doses of the vaccine in the first round of distribution.
According to Huntsville Hospital, the first round of the vaccine is designated for front-line healthcare workers and the hospitals will follow their guidelines regarding who receives the vaccine.
Huntsville Hospital officials also mentioned they are working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Hospital Association to coordinate activities with State and Federal requirements.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will be shipped directly to hospitals pre-identified by the ADPH. Alabama is receiving 40,950 doses in its initial allocation.
At this time, the ADPH is not providing names of the 15 hospitals because of security and logistics concerns, but said officials will provide such information at an appropriate time in the near future.