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Vaccines for COVID-19 begin in Brewton

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are underway in Brewton at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, but the general public will have to wait a while longer for the medicine.

Debbie Gist, compliance officer and vaccine coordinator for D.W. McMillan, said the first vaccines were administered late last month for hospital personnel.

“We had a dress rehearsal for 10 recipients on Dec. 23,” Gist said. “We had our first, full-blown clinic for vaccinations on Dec. 30. We hold our clinics on Wednesday and Thursday each week and so far, we have administered 120 vaccines.”

Gist said the current vaccines being administered are being supplied by Moderna and are being given in accordance with guidelines from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The Moderna vaccine doesn’t require ultra cold equipment,” Gist said. “We had the equipment in place that would work for accepting that particular vaccine.”

Gist said that although the hospital has the vaccine one hand, certain guidelines are place to determine who receives the medication.

“We are restricted by rules from ADPH on who we can provide the vaccine to right now,” Gist said. “Primarily, we are looking at healthcare workers. Those who have contact with patients like first responders, physicians office staff, and those who are taking care of COVID patients or those who are potential COVID patients.”

Gist said the hospital receives calls several times a week to update any information on the administering of the vaccine.

“We get calls almost daily from ADPH about vaccine use,” Gist said. “The strategy has loosened a little bit since Jan. 1, but we don’t have any definitive dates on when we can start vaccinations for the general public.”

Gist said that others targeted for the vaccine also include funeral home staff as well.

“The people who work at funeral homes are also considered a very high risk group,” Gist said. “We are working hard to make the vaccination available to them since they are at risk.”

Gist also encouraged those who have questions about the vaccine should consult with their personal healthcare provider.

“Talk to your doctor and ask questions about whether the vaccine is right for you,” Gist said. “Physicians will be able to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for the vaccine based on their personal medical history.”

Gist said that healthcare professionals are working daily to make sure the vaccine is ready when the general public is allowed to get the vaccination.

“Yes, we hear you,” Gist said. “We want everybody who wants the vaccine to get it and we are working hard to make that a reality.”