Huntsville Hospital receiving first doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville Hospital is one of 15 sites in Alabama receiving initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers confirmed to News 19 that the hospital will receive its first shipment Tuesday.

News 19 has asked Huntsville Hospital for details of how it plans to administer the vaccine, but the hospital said Friday it’s still working on those plans and not yet offered an update Monday.

The initial planning for vaccine use focused on frontline medical personnel and first-responders. Nursing home residents are also prioritized and are expected to receive vaccinations beginning next week, News 19 was told Monday.

In Monday’s Decatur-Morgan County COVID-19 briefing, Decatur-Morgan Hospital President Kelli Powers said initial doses will also go to Athens-Limestone Hospital and Cullman Regional, with around 300 doses expected to go to Decatur-Morgan to vaccinate medical staff there. Powers said she hopes to get those doses Thursday or Friday.

Gov. Kay Ivey confirmed to News 19 Alabama Capital Reporter Jeff Sanders three sites across the state are getting shipments today with the other 12 (including Huntsville) getting their shipments Tuesday.

Gov. Ivey also added that Alabamians need to continue separating, sanitizing, and wearing masks throughout the state.

Ivey added that it will take weeks for the shipments to ramp up. She wanted to remind Alabamians of her mask mandate and to continue social distancing.

— Jeff Sanders (@JeffSandersNews) December 14, 2020

The shipments to Alabama are part of 3 million doses being shipped out nationwide under Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program.

A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19.

The first shots were given Monday all across the U.S.

“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

With a countdown of “3-2-1,” workers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center gave the first injections to applause.

And in New Orleans, Steven Lee, an intensive care unit pharmacist at Ochsner Medical Center, summed up the moment as he got his own vaccination: “We can finally prevent the disease as opposed to treating it.”

Other hospitals around the country, from Rhode Island to Texas, unloaded precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech.

A wary public will be watching closely to see whether health workers embrace vaccinations. Just half of Americans say they want to get vaccinated, while about a quarter don’t and the rest are unsure, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Health Research.

Internationally, five front-line workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto’s hospitals on Monday as well.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the vaccine late Friday. It capped an unprecedented global race to speed vaccines through testing and review, chopping years off the normal development process.

In a key distribution challenge, the vaccine, co-developed with BioNTech, must be stored and shipped at ultra-low temperatures — about 94 degrees below zero. Pfizer has developed shipping containers that use dry ice, and GPS-enabled sensors will allow the company to track each shipment and ensure it stays cold.

While the vaccine was determined to be safe, regulators in the U.K. are investigating several severe allergic reactions. The FDA’s instructions tell providers not give it to those with a known history of severe allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.

Next week, the FDA will review a vaccine from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health that appears about as protective as Pfizer’s shot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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