DeKalb Regional begins SARS CoV-2 vaccinations under Operation Warp Speed

The first phase of vaccination, Phase 1a, the critical infrastructure workforce is identified as frontline health workers, including clinical and non-clinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes or those providing in-home or mental health care directly, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers. 

DeKalb Regional Medical Center began administering an allocation of 700 Moderna SARS CoV-2 vaccines on December 28, 2020. As of January 7, 2021, the hospital has administered 478 vaccines to eligible recipients.

As part of its initiative Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government is using taxpayer funds to procure SARS CoV-2 vaccines directly from manufacturers and distributors and then allocate those to Alabama hospitals, which function as the initial vaccination sites in the State.

”Operation Warp Speed, as huge and complex as it is, has been effective in supporting rapid development, approval, and production of vaccines beyond any vaccine effort I’ve seen in my career. The final pieces of the Operation Warp Speed puzzle are to distribute and administer vaccines to combat this virus,” said Patrick Trammell, Chief Executive Officer at DeKalb Regional Medical Center.

Alabama has taken requests from hospitals and other agencies, including county health departments, based on their needs for the current phase of the vaccination effort. Alabama has required all vaccination sites to use vaccine rollout guidance developed to prioritize eligible populations based on exposure risk and vaccination benefits.

“We look forward to receiving additional allocations of the SARS CoV-2 vaccine and eventually a robust, community-wide effort to vaccinate all appropriate people in our area. However, we understand the entire rollout could take several months. As soon as adequate supply is available to us, we will offer vaccines to all who choose to receive them,” said Jason Rice, MHA, RRT, Chief Quality Officer at DeKalb Regional Medical Center.

In this first phase of vaccination, Phase 1a, the critical infrastructure workforce is identified as frontline health workers, including clinical and non-clinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes or those providing in-home or mental health care directly, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers.

Various phase levels are based on the risk of exposure, and Alabama is currently in Phase 1a. The population that falls into this first phase includes more than 300,000 Alabamians. This phase of the vaccination plan heavily emphasized vaccinating front line healthcare workers and first responders, who are all at high risk for exposure due to the nature of their jobs.

DeKalb Regional established a scheduling line for use by eligible people and is currently administering up to 100 vaccinations per day in a controlled space at the main hospital. The Moderna SARS CoV-2 Vaccine has a long shelf life at normal freezer temperatures and can be stored in a refrigerator for 30 days. After the vaccine is removed from the refrigerator, the hospital must use the doses within 12 hours or 6 hours after the first dose is drawn.

“Thanks to precise teamwork, not a single dose of our allocated vaccine has been wasted or expired thus far,” stated Austin Crowe, Pharm.D., DRMC Director of Pharmacy.

“Side effects have generally been mild and are similar to those seen with flu or tetanus shots in most cases. We have seen great confidence from the provider community in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines,” said Amiee Haygood, RN, DRMC Employee Health/Infection Control Coordinator.

Once persons in Phase 1a have been administered or offered the vaccine, Alabama will move into Phase 1b. Today, the ADPH does not have a timeline as the ability to move to the next phase depends on vaccine supply.

For more information, visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/vaccine.html#planning.

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