Cullman Regional to administer COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday

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CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT)– The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Alabama hospitals. Administration of the vaccines will begin as soon as Tuesday.

Cullman Regional Medical Center received nearly 2,000 vaccines on Monday. The hospitals also received the freezers that are used to store the vaccines at subfreezing temperatures.

The vaccines will be distributed to EMS Staff (15% of allocation), Physicians (15% of allocation), Hospital Staff (50% of allocation), additional hospitals and physicians in a 40-mile radius (20% of allocation).

“It’s starting to look like a light at the end of the tunnel for the healthcare community,” Lindsey Dossey, spokesperson for Cullman Regional, said. “So, we are excited to be a part of that.”

Several counties in Alabama, including Cullman, are seeing alarmingly high COVID-19 test positivity rates. Test positivity rate is the percentage of tests conducted that have a positive result. Rural areas are hopeful vaccines will help lower those rates.

Cullman Regional is treating roughly 50 COVID-19 patients. The test positivity rate in Cullman County is at 43.43%. The World Health Organization recommends test positivity rates be at or below 5%.

“We’ve consistently seen an increase in cases since the end of October, start of November,” Dossey said.

No county in Alabama has a test positivity rate below 5%.

“There are 10 counties that are over 45% positive for the latest average of COVID testing,” said Dr. William Curry, a primary care physician at UAB. “And of those 10, seven are entirely rural and the other three are mostly rural.”

Since the pandemic began, staffing has been strained in hospitals, and with higher test positivity rates, more cases mean more hospitalizations.

“I would love to see less positive tests in our community, but that’s up to our community,” Dossey said.

“From our smallest rural hospitals or health systems or clinics all the way up to the University hospital, we are stretching capacity both in terms of space and personnel to be able to provide the care that we need,” Curry said.

Over 500 employees at Cullman Regional will be receiving the vaccine. The hospital plans to administer all vaccines in the next seven days. The vaccine requires each dose to be defrosted prior to use and must be used within a limited timeframe; therefore, appointments will be required in order to ensure efficient use of all allocated vaccinations.

Cullman Regional will have a trial vaccine clinic on Tuesday to begin administering the shots to frontline healthcare workers. Right now, the vaccines are stored in the hospital’s pharmacy under lock and key.


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