UAB Hospital Ready To Vaccinate More People, Waiting On More Vaccine


Dr. Sarah Nafziger speaks during a news conference Tuesday about vaccination efforts at UAB Hospital.

Alabama has among the nation’s slowest rates of COVID-19 vaccination, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet, officials at UAB Hospital said the rollout there is going better than expected.

As of Tuesday morning, the state’s largest hospital had administered more than 23,000 vaccine doses mostly to UAB employees plus local health care workers and emergency providers, according to the vice president of clinical support services Dr. Sarah Nafziger.

Nafziger said UAB has the staff and resources to expand distribution and establish larger community vaccination sites as soon as this week, but officials are waiting for sufficient allotment from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). 

“The biggest barrier we have right now, and really the only barrier, is making sure we have vaccine doses,” Nafziger said. “It doesn’t make any sense to stand up a mass vaccination site and bring all those people out there and schedule people to receive vaccine if we don’t have the doses to give.” 

Nafziger said the hospital has received three shipments of COVID vaccine so far and does not know how much more will come this month. She said ADPH typically tells the hospital how many doses to expect a few days before shipping the supply. UAB’s initial allotment was about 10,000 doses, followed by a shipment of about 7,000 doses, and a third delivery of about 3,000 doses.

The latest data from ADPH shows that statewide, providers have administered about 158,000 doses of the COVID vaccine, just over one-third of the roughly 446,000 doses that have been delivered to the state. 

According to The CDC, as of Tuesday, Alabama ranked last in the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100,000 residents, although ADPH officials dispute that ranking. They blame distribution delays on a limited vaccine supply.

This week, the state expanded vaccine eligibility to residents aged 75 and older, as well as law enforcement officers and firefighters.

Demand is high and residents have expressed frustration with the process. A hotline to schedule appointments at local health departments was overwhelmed with calls last week and ran out of appointments in a few days.

ADPH officials have asked for patience and said they are developing an online scheduling system.

In Jefferson County, the health department is reaching out to eligible residents who sign up for a vaccine online or call a dedicated hotline. UAB Hospital is reaching out to patients who are eligible to schedule appointments at the UAB Highlands parking deck.

Editor’s note: UAB holds WBHM’s broadcasting license, but the news and business departments operate independently.

More Coronavirus Coverage

ADPH Plans Mobile Vaccination Clinics For Black Belt Region

State health officials hope to administer more vaccines to residents of rural areas.

Ivey Extends Face Mask Order But Not For Long

Gov. Ivey leaves face mask order alone for now, but says it will end April 9.

UAB And JeffCo To Expand Vaccine Outreach In Underrepresented Communities

As of Wednesday, UAB had administered roughly 80,000 vaccine doses, but Black residents remain disproportionately underrepresented.

Alabama’s COVID-19 Death Count Nears 10,000 Mark

Within about a year, the state has lost almost 10,000 Alabamians to COVID-19.

UAB Officials Hopeful Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Could Accelerate Rollout

UAB health experts say when it comes to vaccine variety, more is better. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the latest to win approval from the federal government.

Alabama’s COVID Vaccination Rate Increases

Federal programs have helped increase the number of Alabamians getting vaccinated in recent weeks.

More Coronavirus Coverage