Vaccinations continue in Madison County as COVID-19 cases climb

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said they expect the first round of vaccines they received for hospital employees will be gone soon.

Spillers said in Wednesday’s Madison County COVID-19 briefing that about 74 percent of the 6,825 Pfizer doses Huntsville Hospital received had been administered, and the schedule to administer the rest is full. Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville also has vaccinated about 900 people.

In addition to those, hospital staff vaccinations with the Moderna vaccine are happening in at Decatur Morgan, Helen Keller, Marshall and Highlands hospitals in other counties, Spillers said.

The vaccinations is currently administering are going to people in a group determined by the Alabama Department of Public Health that includes frontline health care workers and others who work in health care settings that could be exposed to fluids and aerosols.

Spillers estimated that there are about 30,000 people in Madison County who fall in that category, and it wouldn’t take long to get half of those people vaccinated through Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood. But once more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, there will need to be more places administering the vaccine.

“We’re going to need physicians’ offices and pharmacies,” Spillers said. “We’re going to need a lot of outlets vaccinating people.” He added that once they get an idea of when they will receive more vaccine doses and how many, it will be easier to plan getting those vaccines out.

The vaccinations continue as hospitals continue to see high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients.

“Every day our system discharges roughly 50 to 55 patients, but we’re admitting 55 to 60 patients,” Spillers said.

Healthcare workers are feeling the increase, officials said. According to Spillers, about 300 employees were out sick or quarantined. HEMSI CEO Jon Howell said they had about 7 percent of their workforce out, and they were busy as well.

“It’s a difficult time for our employees because they’re so busy,” Howell said. “They’re going from one call to the next call to the next call.”

Howell said the numbers are increasing to the point that sometimes HEMSI is getting low on ambulances and getting tied up because hospitals are working to make room for their patients. Both Spillers and Howell said people should continue to wear masks, sanitize and practice social distancing for the foreseeable future, even after they’ve been vaccinated.

“I really want to implore our community to embrace the public health measures that have been promoted ever since this started,” Howell said.

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