What’s next for Alabama hospitals slated to receive the Pfizer vaccine

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - If Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine receives emergency authorization, the unprecedented vaccination effort will be largely carried out by hospitals across Alabama. More than a dozen hospitals have been selected to warehouse the Pfizer vaccine, which has strict cold chain requirements only certain subzero freezers can reach.

The Alabama Department of Public Health estimates it will receive around 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The second of the two-dose vaccine will arrive in the coming weeks.

Thursday, a panel recommended the FDA issue an emergency use authorization, or EUA for the vaccine, however its decision is nonbinding. The FDA is expected to make a decision in the coming days. Should the FDA issue the EUA, the vaccine will ship immediately to pre-selected hospitals across the country.

The vaccine is expected to be in place, ready for distribution by the time the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, makes the final regulatory decision. ACIP is a group of medical and public health experts who develop vaccine recommendations and public health guidance. If ACIP greenlights the Pfizer vaccine, hospitals will quickly activate their plans to vaccinate high risk front line health care workers and those who are in senior assisted living facilities.

In Montgomery, both Baptist Health and Jackson Hospital expect to receive shipments pending an EUA, neither have an estimate on the number of doses it may receive. Baptist Health confirms its received the vaccine prep kits from the government, which includes syringes, masks, visors, a diluting agent needed to administer the vaccine and vaccination record cards. Baptist’s subzero freezer is nearly 30 cubic feet and will be able to hold tens of thousands of doses.

Many hospitals are waiting for ACIP’s priority dosing guidance and the number of doses it receives before publicizing their internal vaccination plans.

Officials have gone to lengths to assure the public no corners have been cut in vaccine development. This vaccine effort is different than any other because it’s been fast-tracked at the taxpayer’s expense. The federal government paid for the vaccines to be manufactured prior to regulatory review in an effort to distribute to the public in the most efficient way, something vaccine manufacturers can rarely afford to do.

If all goes as planned, the Moderna vaccine will receive an EUA in the next week and quickly ship out to states. Moderna is also a two shot vaccine.

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