CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Regional received the facility’s first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning. The hospital plans to administer the first round of vaccines to employees Tuesday, Dec. 15. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) on Monday said three sites received the vaccine in the state Monday. An additional 12 sites are expected to receive the vaccine Tuesday.
“We will prioritize administration of the vaccine in accordance with the federal and state-approved guidelines that have been provided to us,” said Cullman Regional Chief Medical Officer William Smith, MD. “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.”
Cullman Regional was one of 13 health systems in the state of Alabama selected to provide vaccinations to frontline health care workers in the first round of vaccination distributions.
The ADPH said Alabama will receive an initial allocation of 40,950 Pfizer vaccines which will be distributed to 13 health systems and 15 different locations. Of that total, Cullman Regional will receive 1,950 vaccinations which will be distributed to EMS staff (15% of allocation), physicians (15% of allocation), hospital staff (50% of allocation), additional hospital staff and physicians in a 40-mile radius (20% of allocation).
Cullman Regional has set up a Vaccination Clinic for frontline health care workers which will begin this week. Vaccines will be given by appointment only in order to accommodate all parties in a timely manner. The vaccine requires each dose to be defrosted prior to use and must be used within a limited time frame; therefore, appointments will be required in order to ensure efficient use of all allocated vaccinations.
Any outside hospitals and physicians interested in receiving vaccination information should contact 256-737-2754 for additional instructions.
More from Dr. Karen Landers at the ADPH:
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.