Huntsville Hospital CEO outlines vaccine challenges, potential causes and solutions


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The process of scheduling the COVID-19 vaccine with Huntsville Hospital has been simplified with an online form. But the hospital system’s CEO David Spillers said administering the vaccine to each person can be time-consuming.

“We’ve got documentation to fill out on our computer system, we’ve got the state computer system. There’s a lot of things that have to happen. Then we’ve got the 15-minute wait,” he said.

Not a speedy process, especially compared to other states like Tennessee where officials are holding drive-thru vaccinations.

Another common complaint? Alabama isn’t vaccinating at-risk groups as quickly as bordering states.

Spillers said there’s a high demand, but Alabama doesn’t have enough vaccine to meet it. That doesn’t mean hospitals in Madison County aren’t getting new shipments on time, it just means the shipments aren’t very big.

“We request vaccines every week. So far, every week we’re getting additional shipments coming in,” Spillers said. “At this point there’s a steady stream of vaccines, I won’t say they’re going up substantially. It’s not like we’re getting 5000 this week and 10 thousand next week. But they continue to come.”

As it relates to administering what is available, in a timelier manner, Spillers said there needs to be an expansion of vaccine provider sites. “The way to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people is to have multiple sites vaccinating people. We have very few sites in Madison County right now,” he said. “We need 100 sites vaccinating a minimum of 100 people a day on average in order to get anywhere close to vaccinating Madison County.”

So far more than 20,000 people have registered to receive the vaccine through Huntsville Hospital. Spillers said not all of those on the list are from Madison County.

To date, Huntsville Hospital has vaccinated around 3,000 people.

Regardless, Spillers said providers can only do so much. He alluded to funding priorities as an underlying issue with the state’s vaccine rollout. “It’s probably a resource issue more than anything, I don’t mean this in a bad way, we don’t tend to fund things in Alabama to the degree that other states fund things,” Spillers said. “If a state’s got twice as many resources in their department of public health than we do, they’re probably going to have the ability to manage this a little more effectively than we do.”

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