February 3, 2021
University Medical Center began administering COVID-19 vaccines in early January to The University of Alabama’s highest priority groups – University health-care workers, law enforcement and security personnel, UA employees and retirees age 75 and older, and UMC patients age 75 and older.
Based on Alabama Department of Public Health requirements, UMC was only able to offer vaccines to UA individuals in the highest priority group, known as Phase 1a, as well as certain individuals from the Phase 1b category.
UMC, which received the Moderna vaccine, is vaccinating by appointment on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“We are vaccinating hundreds of folks within the prescribed categories,” said Dr. Richard Friend, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC. “We’re just really limited by the vaccine supply.”
UA employees and others who met the ADPH highest priority groups criteria in January were asked to call UMC at (205) 348-1471 to begin the process of making an appointment. Callers received a message asking them to leave their name, date of birth and contact information. Messages were checked daily and calls returned promptly.
Beginning in February, as per ADPH instructions, UMC will focus on vaccinating UA employees.
Vaccination appointments are approximately 30 minutes, including the required 15-minute observation to ensure there are no adverse reactions. So far, reactions have been rare and mild, Friend said.
“We are seeing few, if any, side effects from the first dose but are seeing some body aches and low-grade fevers from the second dose. This is a good thing because it means your immune system is reminded that it has been exposed to the virus and is mounting antibodies, which is what you want to happen,” he said.
The Moderna vaccine, which has been shown in clinical trials to be 95% effective, requires two doses 28 days apart.
Even with the vaccine, people should still properly wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands often, Friend said. “It’s important to know that all those public health measures that we always talk about are 96-98% effective,” he said.
ADPH’s priority categories: