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Helen Keller Hospital waits on new shipment of coronavirus vaccines

It's been a month since the hospital got a new shipment of vaccines.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 4:06 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 8:16 PM

All health departments are out of first-round doses of coronavirus vaccines in Colbert, Lauderdale and Franklin Counties.

The North Alabama Medical Center in Florence has a vaccination clinic this week, but it's not open to the public. It's only for first responders and teachers.

Helen Keller Hospital hasn't had a shipment of new first-round doses in over a month.

"Jan. 18 was our last shipment of first-round doses," said Helen Keller Hospital President, Kyle Buchanan, on Wednesday.

Buchanan said they have enough doses to complete second rounds for people 75 years and older, but they just don't know when they will get more vaccines.

"We share in the public's frustration. I mean, put yourselves in our shoes. There are no groups of people who are more excited to see this pandemic squashed," said Buchanan.

To make matters worse, last week's winter storm stopped vaccination efforts for second-round doses in their tracks.

"Almost every time we received an updated forecast and realized it would be unsafe to ask 500 75+ year olds to venture out in the ice and snow, we'd say, 'sorry, Mr. Johnson, we're going to have to move your appointment back,'" said Buchanan.

Buchanan said right now, they have over 11,000 people on their waiting list for the vaccine. He said once they get doses, they can vaccinate close to 1,000 people a day. For people across the state with underlying conditions, they are still waiting to be eligible for the vaccine because of the state's phase restrictions.

"I understand the state's dilemma. We haven't received enough doses to push through Phase 1B yet, so I could understand why they would be hesitant to open up a new category and take our waiting list from 11,000 to 26,000 with no new doses," said Buchanan.

Some health departments in the Shoals said they hope to get a new shipment of first-round doses at the beginning of March. All appointments in the Shoals for Walmart vaccine clinics are full and don't give you an option to schedule one because they're booked.

In some good news, Helen Keller Hospital only has 10 patients hospitalized with coronavirus. Just six weeks ago, the hospital had 68 coronavirus patients, which pushed the limits of staff and the hospital.

Hospital officials believe there are many factors that go into this decline. They said last week's winter storm forced people in Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale Counties to social distance. They said it's unlikely that vaccinations have helped drive down infections, because enough people still haven't been vaccinated.

Buchanan said he believes another factor is people who have had the virus and successfully fought it off, and now, they have antibodies.

"I do think the story-telling aspect of it is a factor. Now, we continue to hear people say up until last month, 'I didn't know anyone that had it, and now, I know two people in my church who passed away,' and so it's hitting closer to home for more people now to a degree that I think individuals are shifting behaviors to reduce the spread," said Buchanan.

Buchanan said Helen Keller Hospital is equipped to handle coronavirus for the long-run. They still encourage people to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands to help combat the virus.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530744

Reported Deaths: 10978
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson764931522
Mobile40959804
Madison34735503
Tuscaloosa25749452
Montgomery24327589
Shelby23425249
Baldwin21123308
Lee15873171
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Russell440738
Chilton4284112
Franklin425682
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4026152
Escambia393376
Chambers3560123
Dallas3547151
Clarke351061
Marion3116101
Pike310877
Lawrence300298
Winston274272
Bibb260564
Marengo249664
Geneva249477
Pickens234361
Barbour230757
Hale222877
Butler215969
Fayette212262
Henry188744
Cherokee184645
Randolph180141
Monroe177340
Washington167239
Macon158950
Clay156156
Crenshaw152257
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138753
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110329
Perry107526
Coosa107228
Sumter104432
Greene92334
Choctaw60624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 852841

Reported Deaths: 12255
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby956561619
Davidson89355933
Knox50675635
Hamilton44280494
Rutherford43046434
Williamson28015217
Sumner24012349
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Out of TN1840797
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Bradley15032150
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Madison11168242
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Anderson8760172
Hamblen8610173
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Carter6634158
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McMinn650898
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Roane6282105
Jefferson6211124
Loudon613069
Hawkins6077107
Lawrence593887
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Warren554881
Dyer5425106
Franklin515090
Fayette506877
Cheatham455355
Obion454196
Cocke450099
Lincoln435763
Rhea434875
Marshall419058
Campbell415463
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Giles3996100
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White364170
Macon361978
Carroll361683
Hardin357167
Hardeman352664
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Henry318576
Claiborne318273
Marion312347
Scott312345
Overton301161
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Hickman284046
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DeKalb279654
Smith277839
Haywood271162
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Morgan250139
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