MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has provided recommendations, some health care workers and long-term care residents in Alabama will soon be vaccinated. Alabama’s initial allocation of 40,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccine has begun arriving in the state.
This initial allocation of vaccine will be received at three sites Monday and 12 sites Tuesday. Vaccine is being shipped directly to 15 pre-identified Alabama hospitals which have capacity for ultracold storage of the Pfizer product. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is not providing names of receiving entities due to security and logistical concerns but expects to provide this information Tuesday.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was allocated using a federal microplanning tool. The current allocation for administration is 50% for hospital health care workers, 15% for EMS providers, 15% for physician offices, and 20% for other hospital staff not associated with the point of distribution. ADPH follows ACIP recommendations regarding administration to persons in Phase 1a, currently identified as health care providers and residents of long-term care. Vaccine administration to persons in this first phase is expected to be administered within a day or days of receipt of shipment. Residents of long-term care will be vaccinated through the Federal Pharmacy Program in cooperation with large chain pharmacies.
ADPH selected hospitals to receive the initial allocation based upon their ability to handle ultracold storage product. Cold chain storing will be managed according to the product requirements. Mechanisms for monitoring of temperature of the product are in place as part of the shipping and storage process.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses separated by 21 days, and a recall system for second doses has been established. 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.
Information regarding the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine’s side effect profile indicated that some recipients had pain at the site of injection, headaches, fever, muscle aches and chills. These were seen more with the second dose than the first dose and were reported to resolve over one to two days. Mechanisms are in place to monitor for vaccine side effects.
Vaccine safety is an important aspect of provision of any product. ADPH will follow information from CDC related to any potential adverse events from COVID-19 vaccine as is done with other vaccines. Hospitals will also follow CDC/FDA/ADPH information as it is received. ADPH does not plan to require COVID-19 vaccine, nor is anyone mandating immunization, but Alabama hospitals are encouraging staff most at risk for exposure staff to do so.
All entities providing COVID-19 vaccine are required to enroll in Alabama’s Immunization Patient Registry with Integrated Technology (ImmPRINT) for ordering, documentation, and tracking of vaccine doses. More entities have completed ImmPRINT enrollment and others are in the process of enrolling each day.
In the coming days and weeks, ADPH expects additional allocations of the Pfizer product. As any additional vaccine product receives EUA, processes to receive, store and administer will be followed, appropriate to the vaccine product. ADPH will update as new information becomes available.
For more information, go to alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/vaccine.html.