UAB Hospital Receives First Delivery of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine, Vaccinations Begin Thursday

This health professional is storing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in a freezer that can store it at -112 degrees Farenheit. (Source: UAB)

UAB Hospital received its first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning.

The hospital was given 10,725 doses out of the entire state’s total doses of 40,950.

“It was astronomically more vaccine than we anticipated receiving,” said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, co-chair of UAB’s Emergency Management Committee. It’s “a very complex undertaking to get this up and running in 12 days.”

UAB will administer the vaccine to 7,507 hospital-based personnel, 1,609 clinical based personnel including ambulatory personnel, and 1,609 emergency medical services personnel in a seven-county region within a 40-mile radius of UAB.

The vaccinations will be by appointment only and will begin Thursday.

“The reason we’re not rushing to administer the vaccine today is there’s a lot of logistics involved in making appointments for and administering (the) vaccine,” said Nafziger.

She said the goal is to administer the vaccine safely and correctly. “So we’re going to get everybody vaccinated. We’re going to get all these doses delivered, but we’re not going to rush it. We’d rather do it correctly than rush it and make a mistake on the front end.”

UAB will work six days a week to administer the vaccine “in a timely manner,” said Nafziger.

“This vaccine has given us a ray of hope … While we’re excited to receive these vaccine doses, these are not going to save us from the surge we’re in right now,” said Nafziger. “These vaccines are going to help us with future surges, but for now, I don’t want everyone to hear, ‘Oh we have a vaccine, we can go ahead and stop wearing our mask … because that’s just simply not the case right now.”

She said UAB Hospital healthcare workers, employees and staff will still be required to social distance and wear a mask.

When Will the General Public Get a Vaccine?

Nafziger said they don’t know for sure.

“The best information that I’m hearing, which, of course, is speculation, is in hopefully the spring,” said Nafziger. “But we just don’t know the exact timeline for that.”

Editor’s Note: UAB holds WBHM’s broadcast license, but our news and business departments operate independently.