Dadeville hospital among first in Alabama to get COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 10:25 PM CST
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DADEVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville is among one of the first 15 hospitals in Alabama to receive a shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The rural hospital received 950 doses of the vaccine Tuesday morning and the first vaccinations were given at 8 a.m. Wednesday to front-line workers and first responders operating within a 40-mile radius of the hospital, according to Ivy Creek Healthcare marketing director Heidi Smith.

Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville, Alabama.
Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville, Alabama.(Source: WSFA)

Lake Martin Community Hospital’s Dr. Robert Schuster and Ivy Creek Healthcare CEO Mike Bruce were among the first to receive Alabama’s first batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday morning.

“This is history in the making,” Smith said. “To be a part of giving some of those first initial vaccines to our healthcare workers and to our first responders, it’s just an amazing opportunity and an amazing thing to witness and watch.”

“It took 30 seconds to fill out the paperwork, the vaccine was pretty much painless, (and) it hurts less than the flu vaccine,” said Alicia Morgan with Tallapoosa EMS just minutes after getting vaccinated.

“It’s a pretty straight forward process,” said Walker Kelley with Tallapoosa EMS. “They take your temperature, they give it to you, you wait 20 minutes to make sure you have no adverse affects, and then you’re right back to what you’re doing before hand.”

The vaccine is administered in two doses — everyone who received the vaccine Wednesday must receive their second shot in 21 days.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is working hard to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to every hospital across the state, both big and small. But some rural hospitals are not yet equipped to store the Pfizer vaccine.

So how was Lake Martin Community Hospital able to get ahead of the game?

“It (the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine) requires a specialized freezer and we were able to obtain one of those early on in the game because that was one of the prerequisites is that you had to have that on hand,” Smith said.

Also, with such a large amount of doses provided, and such a short turnaround for when vaccines needed to be administered, Smith said they knew they had to come prepared.

“We had to have the confidence that our health care providers, our Ivy Creek employees and the first responders were going to be there to take the vaccines and they have been,” Smith said.

The arrival of the vaccine also could not come at a more difficult time for the Ivy Creek Healthcare staff.

Sadly, just hours after the first doses of the vaccine were given, employees received the news that one of their colleagues who worked at the Ivy Creek clinic in Millbrook died from complications related to COVID-19.

“It just really struck close to home for all of us,” Smith said. “So while it’s been a victory for healthcare today in that we are getting this process started, it’s been a very somber day for Ivy Creek because we are all grieving the loss of our co-worker.”

Smith anticipates that it will take a few weeks to distribute the large batch of vaccines they acquired to healthcare workers in the surrounding community.

At present, vaccine allocation in Alabama is limited to frontline health workers and first responders. According to the ADPH vaccine plan, doses will be available to the general public sometime mid-2021.

Some good news for rural hospitals: If the Moderna vaccine gets approved by the FDA this week, the ADPH said the state plans to give it to the smaller and more rural hospitals as soon as next week.

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