CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) — As the Moderna vaccine makes its way into Alabama, health leaders in Calhoun County are preparing for distribution to healthcare workers.
For the past month or so, Calhoun County officials have been planning for the massive undertaking.
“The local hospitals, we’ve had some local physicians, the health department, JSU, and a few other community entities that are involved in this planning, again to make sure that, we are all on the same page in doing this in the most efficient manner that we possibly can,” said Myles Chamblee, with Calhoun County EMA.
While Calhoun County did not receive the Pfizer vaccine, leaders from Northeast Regional Medical Center in Anniston hope to have the Moderna vaccine soon.
“Right now we have put in a request for about 5,000 vaccines and hopefully we will get that sometime next week, and if it goes according to plan, the first phase will be rolled out next Monday December 28th,” said Kristin Fillingim, Director of Marketing for RMC in Anniston.
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Calhoun County. Health officials reported 860 new cases over the past week.
A total of 62 patients are being treated for COVID-19 at RMC.
“It really is putting a strain on our hospital system, our staff, we are really working to keep beds open and staff, which are also susceptible to this virus,” said Fillingim.
Under state and federal distribution plans, frontline healthcare workers will receive the vaccine first. Fillingim said the vaccine will be important to ensure staff members can keep up with the surge.
“We are in this together and without our frontline workers, who do we have to call on ourselves? So that is why we want to get them vaccinated,” said Fillingim.
Calhoun County ‘strike teams’ will be helping to administer the vaccine in two groups.
RMC has three team members on the strike team including a member from the pharmacy, the COVID unit, and the wellness extension office. The EMA is also helping in the operation.
While healthcare employees will be able to receive the first dose at RMC, EMS workers and other physicians are set to be next in line for the vaccine during the first week of January at the Anniston City Meeting Center.
“As soon as they get it they will start, at least on the hospital side, vaccinating their employees and we are hoping for the beginning of January to start with our first responders and other healthcare agencies,” said Chamblee.
Chamblee said distributing the vaccine will be collaborative effort between several organizations and stakeholders.
“Hospitals is also overwhelmed with patients right now, so they are not able to pull away a lot of people to provide these vaccines, so that is why we are working with the health department and the local clinics and first responders in trying to coordinate who can assist in administering the vaccine,” said Chamblee.
The EMA said officials will be getting an estimation of vaccines needed.
“They are communicating with each of their priority group that they’re assigned, so like the first responders, and getting a head count for how many want to receive the vaccine so we can plan,” said Chamblee.