The Jefferson County Department of Health on Monday received its first allocation of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 and older.
The state received its shipment of 84,300 doses last week. The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses about one month apart.
“We are delighted to be among those receiving vaccines for our local community and will do our best to make sure the public is well informed as we go along,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said.
The health department received 500 initial doses. It isn’t clear when the agency will begin to administer the vaccine, but Dr. David Hicks, the county’s deputy health officer, said vaccinations will begin once officials have determined a final plan. Health care workers will take priority.
“Jefferson County Unified Command is working on centralizing coordination of vaccine distribution within the near future,” Hicks said in an email.
A statement issued Monday said officials will “insure the equitable distribution of vaccine for those at highest risk of getting COVID-19 as delineated in Alabama’s Vaccine Allocation Plan.”
Wilson asked that people observe the same safety guidelines that have been in place throughout the pandemic.
“It will still take months to get enough of the overall population vaccinated to reach herd immunity, so I urge everyone to remain very careful to continue social distancing, mask-wearing, hand hygiene, and avoidance of large gatherings,” Wilson said.
County health officials will provide the vaccine to critical health care workers in the first phase of the vaccine rollout. Officials said they will evaluate whether enough people have received it in one phase before moving onto the next.
The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the most common side effects are pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site. Chills, tiredness, and headache are also common for a few days after receiving the vaccine.
The majority of people being vaccinated at UAB as of Monday are hospital employees, outpatient staff, and regional EMS providers.
“At this time, we are still in the process of vaccinating frontline healthcare workers at UAB Hospital which includes anyone from departments within our School of Medicine who have UAB Medicine appointments, to those in environmental services, food services, patient services, among others,” said Adam Pope, a UAB spokesman.
“We are developing plans and timelines for offering the vaccine to the greater UAB community when supply becomes available, based on state eligibility guidelines,” Pope said.