Jefferson County health official says first vaccine doses to arrive in Alabama ‘around December 10’
Dr. David Hicks, deputy director of the Jefferson County Department of Health, appeared at a COVID-19 briefing on Friday and mentioned that he expects the first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to arrive in Alabama “around December 10th.”
Hicks added that the first doses of Moderna’s vaccine will arrive a week later, around December 17.
He said the two dates are when he expects “to start hitting those initial doses within the state of Alabama.”
“It is not going to be enough to vaccinate that many people, the production line is going to have to scale up and expand, but those vaccines are going to come,” Hicks explained.
Though health officials for months have said to expect the first doses of vaccine to arrive in December, Hicks is the first to mention a date.
In a separate briefing on Friday, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Alabama currently has an allocation of 40,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and an allotment of the Moderna vaccine “generally on the same scale” that he expects to arrive around one week later.
Importantly, each company’s vaccine requires a patient to receive two doses a few weeks apart, meaning that one Alabamian will be treated for every two doses the state receives.
Harris did not go as far as Hicks in mentioning a specific date, but did say doses will likely be administered in “mid-December.”
UAB Hospital will be the site in Jefferson County where the first vaccine doses will be administered, according to Hicks, with first responders and health care workers getting the initial doses.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were shown to be more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection per data publicly released by the medical companies that developed them.
The two candidates are currently seeking regulatory approval from the U.S. government before they can ship their products.
Pfizer submitted the results of their safety trials to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 20 and is currently waiting on approval.
Hicks’ comments on Friday indicate a belief that an FDA approval for the two vaccine candidates is imminent.
The news of the first vaccine doses arriving comes as Alabama’s coronavirus numbers are as troubling as they’ve ever been during the pandemic.
As of Thursday, there are 1,827 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Alabama – an all-time high for the state.
Similarly, Alabama is currently experiencing its highest-ever average of daily new coronavirus cases, a rate experts think may increase as more people infected over the Thanksgiving holiday come down with symptoms.
“We’re trying to buy time until there is an effective vaccine that is widely disseminated,” said Hicks on Friday about the coronavirus situation in Jefferson County and around the state, noting that measures like social distancing and mask-wearing will still be needed in the coming months.