Alabama healthcare providers help with COVID vaccinations

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 3:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More people in Alabama will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccines starting Monday. Folks 65 years old and older, as well as other essential workers. That means up to 1.5 million people in Alabama will be eligible for the vaccine.

Right now, there are about 880 healthcare providers signed up by the Alabama Department of Public Health. ADPH said they are doing a good job, but the problem still remains there are not enough vaccines to go around to meet the demand.

“Good, but very challenging,” said Betsy Stewart with MainStreet Family Care.

MainStreet Family Care in Pelham started to get the vaccine shortly before Christmas. The family care business gets about 1,000 doses of Moderna sent to their 17 clinics across the state.

“We started out doing about 10 doses per day, per clinic. Just as we added more staff, more capacity, we are now up to 20-40 per day,” Stewart said.

Since the vaccinations started, MainStreet Family Care is behind only ADPH and UAB with the number of shots into arms - which is 7,000. Vaccine supplies are shipped directly to the providers. The providers go to the ADPH website and apply to be providers and to get those shipments.

“The most important factor is to store the vaccine. You’ve got to be able to maintain the cold chain. One of the products requires ultracold - the Pfizer,” Dr. Karen Landers said.

MainStreet Family Care did purchase new freezers to house the vaccines. Since it’s Moderna, it does not have to be super cold like the Pfizer vaccine. The shipments are sporatic. The providers and the state health department don’t know when or how much they will get.

“Our vaccine supply is a lot lower than what we would like it to be and we literally have county health departments running out of vaccine and other places running out of vaccine,” Landers said.

ADPH ships the vaccines to the clinics. Recently, the health department took some 4,000 doses from some providers who could not do the vaccinations quick enough.

For some healthcare providers, that may come down to staffing and being able to handle a healthcare provider’s normal patient load.

Stewart at MainStreet Family Care said it could do 80 patients a day, but that would mean they would have to stop treating their normal patient load.

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