Alabama Coronavirus vaccinations: great demand – limited supplies; ALDPH urges patience

Attorney Hank Sanders shown getting the vaccine in Selma.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ALDPH) says it has not received enough doses of the coronavirus vaccine to serve the 325,000 frontline health workers in the state, much less the over 300,000 people in the age group over 75, teachers and other essential workers who are in the next group scheduled to be vaccinated.
The ALDPH has asked people in the State of Alabama to be patient as it seeks to increase its delivery of vaccines and their distribution around the state.
In a January 9th press release the ALDPH said “As of January 18th, the Health Department will offer vaccinations to the population ages 75 and over. You may call 1-855-566-5333 from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, seven days a week to schedule an appointment.”
Three days later ALDPH issued a press release saying over 1.1 million people in the state had called the number, most without reaching anyone to schedule their appointment. Later ALDPH warned that calling hospitals directly to inquire about vaccinations was tying up phone lines needed for emergency calls.
Several persons connected with the Greene County Health System Board of Directors report calling the toll-free line numerous times without success. Most received a busy signal or a voicemail which records their interest in a vaccination but there has been no call back with an appointment for vaccination.
A GCHS staff member who did receive their first vaccination shot was having trouble reaching the ALDPH to schedule their second shot which is due soon.
Dr. Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System says, “I have been working to secure vaccines for our facility to be able to vaccine various priority groups. The best information so far is that we will get supplies of vaccine by the end of January. We have had some of our medical and support staff vaccinated at the Health Department. We do not have a date yet for the vaccination of the nursing home residents and other vulnerable groups, who are on the priority list for vaccination.”
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board of Directors says, “The muddled vaccine delivery and distribution problems in Alabama arise from the failure of the national administration in Washington to develop a national plan for coronavirus vaccination and to provide the resources to implement the plan. We may have to wait until after the Biden-Harris Inauguration, to have people take charge who are concerned and really want to stop this damaging pandemic. In the meantime, I guess we are forced to accept the Alabama Department of Public Health’s prescription of patience.”
“We have so many people desperately seeking the vaccination when the state of Alabama is having difficulties getting us a supply of vaccine,”. said Dr. Pugh.
The problems of vaccine distribution come with a backdrop of increasing and record numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths attributable to the coronavirus in Greene County, Alabama and the nation

Vaccine scarcity limits dispersal in Alabama Healthcare workers say vaccine is safe and urge everyone to take it

Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters

All healthcare workers we have seen and spoken with urge everyone to take the coronavirus vaccine because it is safe and effective.
We have the pictures of two healthcare workers from Greene County: Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson, who is a nurse and received her shot yesterday at Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis where she works and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters, a pediatrician in Lake Charles, Louisiana, daughter of the publishers, who grew up in Greene County and graduated from Eutaw High School as valedictorian in 1987, also received the shot this week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, head of NIH, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice- President Mike Pence have all been seen taking the shot on television in recent days. They have all urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as the precious vaccine reaches them.
In a press release today, Dr. Scott Harris, of the Alabama Department of Public Health warns, “The overriding issue at present is the scarcity of vaccine. We realize that there are many people at increased risk of exposure to the virus who are not yet able to receive immunization. As the supply of vaccine remains limited, we continue to urge the public to practice the measures needed to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”
The ADPH says, “We are in the first phase of vaccination, Phase 1a, the critical infrastructure workforce is identified as frontline health workers, including clinical and nonclinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes or those providing in-home or mental health care directly, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers. Various phase levels are based on risk exposure, and Alabama is currently in Phase 1a. The population that falls into this first phase is more than 300,000 Alabamians, but thus far we have received an allocation only 84,300 of the Moderna vaccine.” The State also received an initial allocation of 29,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage conditions.
During the Phase 1a. vaccination period, the administering hospital is required to use 50 percent for hospital healthcare workers, 15 percent for EMS providers, 15 percent for physician offices, and 20 percent for other hospital staff/healthcare workers not associated with the point of distribution. Residents of long-term care will be vaccinated through the Federal Pharmacy Program in cooperation with large chain pharmacies.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System, told the GCHS Board of Directors in its recent meeting, that she has participated in zoom meetings and conference calls with the ADPH and the Alabama Hospital Association and GCHS will soon get doses of the Moderna vaccine for hospital workers and local health care and EMS workers in Greene County. No definite date has yet been given for when the vaccine will get to Greene County.
“Once the vaccine gets to Greene County, we will have to educate people on the importance of taking it when their time comes to take it,” said Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson. “Many Black people are skeptical about the vaccine because of the Tuskegee project in the 1930’s and 40’s and the treatment of Black people as guinea pigs for Federal health experiments,” she said.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, an African American, also urged Black people to get vaccinated. Baker praised Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth, one of the world’s leading immunologists and an African American who sat on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s panel that approved the rollout of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
“There was an African American doctor that was in charge of the vaccine,” Baker said during a video call. “I felt more comfortable that he and other African Americans were on the boards to come up with the vaccine. And he guaranteed that it wouldn’t be another Tuskegee kind of experiment. And he urged Black Americans to use the vaccine.”
Because of the Tuskegee experiment, the notorious 40-year study that began in 1932, where U.S. Public Health officials misled African Americans about their health status. The study’s participants were infected with syphilis, and health officials withheld treatment like penicillin, leaving some to die.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease physician, also championed the work of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American scientist, whom Dr. Fauci said was at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.
“So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact,” Dr. Fauci remarked.
More than 300,000 Americans have died, and nearly 17 million have contracted the coronavirus. Some reports indicate that as many as 25 percent of COVID-19 victims are African American. However, that hasn’t stopped the skepticism about the vaccine among many Black people.
Alabama residents should exercise caution by postponing travel and avoiding gatherings during the holidays.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
·  Social distance by staying 6 feet away from others
·Avoid people who are sick
·Stay home if you can; work remotely if possible
· Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others
·  Cover coughs and sneezes
·  Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
·  Monitor your health
Once additional quantities of vaccine are available, ADPH will provide information about how the public can go about getting vaccinated.
For additional information, go to https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/prevention.html

Alabama records 6,750 cases of coronavirus with 242 deaths; Greene Co. has 47 cases and one death

Mobile Health Unit from Maude Whatley Health Center conducts Coronavirus testing on Greene County Courthouse Square on Tuesday, April 29, 2020.
Eutaw Police Chief, Derick Coleman, presents a Teddy Bear toy to a small child as consolation to calm her just before COVID-19 test was administered on Tuesday.

As of 9:00 AM on April 29, 2020, the New York Times compilation of coronavirus data shows 6,750 confirmed cases in Alabama with 242 deaths. In Greene County there are 47 confirmed cases with one death.
74,000 people in Alabama have been tested for the virus, which is 1.4 per cent of the total population of the state that has been tested.
Maude Whatley Health Services from Tuscaloosa had a mobile unit at the Courthouse Square in Eutaw on Tuesday and tested 70 more Greene County residents.
A chart from the New York Times data center shows that Alabama is still experiencing 200 new cases per day down from highs of 300 per day earlier in the month.
Nationally the United States has over a million cases with over 58,000 deaths, in three months, more than the total number of people killed in the Vietnam War, which lasted a decade.
Some states have begun to relax economic and business closures. In Georgia, the Governor has agreed to open personal care businesses, like barbershops, retail stores and restaurants, with some social distancing regulations.
Governor Kay Ivey issued a “Safer at Home” order allowing retail establishments to open with a maximum capacity of 50% with physical distancing and regular sanitation by end of this week. She also reopened Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches and allows for drive church services, funerals and other gatherings. Restaurants and personal service businesses will be closed for another 15 days with the exception of drive-through and take-out food services.
Meetings of people are limited to ten and must abide by social distancing. For Greene County, officials met and put out an informational briefing urging people to abide by CDC and ADPH regulations.
The information brief contains this warning, “There is mutual agreement between county law enforcement and city law enforcement to assist each other in all matters relating to coronavirus. Going forward, any gathering exceeding the emergency mandates of 10 persons will be issued citations that may result in fines and/or possible jail time.”
Greene County
Nursing Home
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System indicated that they were able to test all residents of the Greene County Nursing Home for the virus. The Democrat has learned that half of the residents have tested positive for the virus but most of these were asymptomatic, showing no symptoms of the virus.
Eight (8) positive Nursing Home residents have been transferred to other hospitals for treatment because of their underlying heath conditions. One transferred resident has died. The Nursing Home is expecting many of its transferred patients to be returned once they have recovered.
In her statement, Dr. Pugh indicated, “Like most of the Nursing Homes throughout the state, the Greene County Nursing Home is having its share of residents and staff that are fighting COVID.
Guidelines are being received daily from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Health (ADPH). Our Administrative staff and Infection Prevention are being diligent in keeping up with the daily changes. We are actively participating in the routine statewide update calls.
We appreciate the donated supplies from all over the state that are assisting us in the fight against COVID. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) consisting of Tyvek suits, face shields, masks, shoe covers, and bonnets are used daily by our staff. Our health care team are all truly heroes in this battle.”
Dr. Pugh also stated that the Alabama National Guard was sending a team a clean and sanitize the entire facility –hospital, nursing home and physician’s clinic – on Thursday, April 30, 2020 to enhance the effectiveness of the system to withstand the virus.