Troy hospital awaits arrival of COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge

Updated: Dec. 17, 2020 at 10:18 PM CST
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TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - While some hospitals in the state are administering their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, others are still waiting for their first shipment of the vaccine to arrive.

Among those eagerly waiting for their first batch of the vaccine is Troy Regional Medical Center.

CEO Rick Smith said the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine could not come soon enough, as their hospital is seeing a drastic surge in COVID cases.

“We are seeing more cases now, hospitalized cases now here at Troy, then we have during the entire time of the pandemic,” Smith said.

Smith added that over the past month, the condition of their COVID patients has also become more severe.

“The patients are sicker, and the mortality is higher than we’ve seen in the past,” Smith said.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Smith said Troy Regional should be receiving their first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine within the next two to three weeks.

“We have placed an order, a successful order, for the Moderna product,” said Chief Clinical Officer Amy Minor. “We feel like we will be able to safely store that and administer that number of doses to the employees and those who meet the requirements for that dose.”

Smith said once the vaccine is here, 50% would be given to Troy Regional staff, then 15% to EMS and 15% to physician offices. The remaining 20% will be used for surrounding hospitals who may not get the vaccine.

The hospital said they will likely be receiving the Moderna vaccine because it is better suited for their facility.

The Pfizer vaccine not only requires a specialized freezer that Troy Regional does not acquire enough of, but it is also shipped in allotments of nearly 1,000 doses at a time. A number too large for the smaller hospital to administer in a timely manner.

“We do have a very small limited ultra cold freezer that could store the Pfizer vaccine, but the number of doses shipped in that Pfizer shipment we just don’t know that we could safely store that amount and then be able to administer it in the time frame that would be needed,” Minor said.

The Moderna vaccine, however, can be stored at less frigid of a temperature and is shipped in allotments of 100, making it the better option for the rural hospital.

Once the vaccine has arrived, Minor said the hospital will develop a “COVID Vaccine Clinic” where frontline workers who qualify will be able to come and get vaccinated. More information on the clinic will be released in the coming weeks Minor said.

After a difficult year, Troy Regional said they are excited for the arrival of the vaccine, and hopes it will bring them one step closer to seeing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to be that resource for our community,” Smith said. “We want to play our part in the the killing of this deadly virus.”

Right now, vaccine allocation in Alabama is limited to front-line health workers and first responders. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health vaccine plan, doses will be available to the general public sometime in mid-2021.

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