• 1,200 doses of Moderna vaccine available
By Scott Johnson
WINFIELD - The Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 is being actively administered in Marion County.
Northwest Medical Center (NMC) in Winfield began vaccinations early Tuesday morning, Dec. 22, for those at “very high-risk” COVID-19 exposure. NMC Chief Nursing Officer Mari Jane Rogers was the first person to receive the vaccine in Marion County.
The advent of the Moderna vaccine is the culmination of seven months of work through President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed which launched May 15. Moderna secured emergency approval for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, Dec. 18, making it the second COVID-19 vaccine available.
Pfizer and BioNTech, which operated independently from Operation Warp Speed, received approval for its vaccine on Dec. 11. North Mississippi Health Services (NMHS) in Tupelo received a shipment of Pfizer vaccines on Monday, Dec. 14.
According to NMC Chief Executive Officer Michael Windham, 700 vaccinations arrived in Winfield on Monday morning, Dec. 21. He said the Marion County Department of Health has been delivered 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Windham noted that the Moderna version of the COIVD-19 vaccine does not require ultracold storage like the Pfizer vaccine does, making it more ideal for rural and community hospitals.
Studies of the Moderna vaccine have shown it to have 94.1% efficacy. Data on the Pfizer version hold it to be 95% effective.
Windham said the hospital will administer about 300 vaccines during Dec. 22-23 and a second round shots on Dec. 28-19. He said his staff would be divided between the two dates as a precaution for side-effects, which he explained were not expected.
Those who receive the vaccine will have to get a follow-up shot 30 days after their first.
Windham said he anticipated including regular hospital employees, patient-care workers, first responders and law enforcement in the first round of shots. However, last-minute changes to the state allocation plan on Monday night, Dec. 21, pushed back the timeframe for these groups.
According to the Alabama Vaccination allocation plan, the “very high-risk” classification includes:
• Frontline healthcare workers like clinical and non-clinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes, EMS or those providing in-home or mental health care directly.
• Personnel collecting or handling potential COVID-19 specimens
• Residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
• Pathologists performing autopsies on persons known or suspected to have had COVID-19.