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COVID-19: ACH conducting efficient vaccine clinic for those eligible

“OK, I can take the next one.”

That’s what an Alabama Department of Public Health employee said Feb. 26 during one of Atmore Community Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Since the availability of the vaccines to eligible residents, the hospital has been holding the clinics Mondays and Fridays. At present, those who qualify in Tier 1A, 1B and 1C (65-plus only) can get the vaccine, according to the ADPH. Tier 1A includes EMT/EMS, pharmacy, healthcare worker, dentist, mental health provider and morticians. Tier 1B includes those who are 75 and older, first responders, corrections officers, food and agriculture workers, U.S. postal service officers, manufacturing, grocery store workers, public transit, education, childcare workers, clery/minister. Those in Tier 1C include those 65-74 years old.

ACH Director of Operations Brad Lowery said ACH Patient Safety and Employee Health Manager Ashley Strawbridge came up with the COVID-19 vaccine clinic process.

“What we do is we call and get patients scheduled,” Lowery said. “We have patient slots where we’re trying to push through eight patients every 15 minutes.”

Lowery said ACH is administering the Moderna vaccine shots.

When asked if the first shot is some sort of booster, Lowery said both shots are the same, “an MRNA vaccine with a syhthesized protein on the end of it.”

Strawbridge said to come up with the process, she visited and helped with the North Baldwin Infirmary vaccination clinic when ACH’s staff were having to go there for their first doses.

“Their set up was very similar,” she said. “So, I just took that experience and available space we had here and came up with this method.”

Lowery said patients enter through the main entrance for the vaccination clinic, not the emergency entrance. From there, they check in and if they’re getting their first dose, they’ll go ahead and schedule the second dose.

Lowery said the hospital makes sure it allocates for the number of first doses to make sure they get their second.

From there, the patients fill out some paperwork and sit in a hallway, where they wait to be called in for their shot. After the vaccine is administered, each patient is given a 15-minute timer and wait in an observation room for any reaction from the vaccine.

The process is the same for those receiving their second vaccination.

ACH Interim Administrator Suzanne McGill said some people have gotten their second shots at the hospital even if they received their first elsewhere.

“Our people are guaranteed that second dose,” McGill said.

The vaccines are drawn from vials that contain 5 millileters worth. Each shot is 0.5 millileters. Because of the vaccine’s fragilness, the shots have to be administered within six hours. At present, the clinic is running Mondays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.

Lowery said the hospital has a freezer that stores the vaccines in negative 15-25 degrees celsius.

Strawbridge said she encourages patients to receive their vaccination from the clinic rather than going to their doctor’s offices because of the shelf life of the vaccine.

As of Feb. 26, ACH has administered more than 2,000 vaccinations, including first and second doses.

Strawbridge said those who want to submit a vaccine request need to visit www.atmorehealth.org. Those who are qualified are encouraged to submit the request right now, she said.