Madison County health officials expect to be vaccinating people who are 75 years or older in the county in the next week or two. That's according to Crestwood Medical Center's CEO, Pam Hudson.
Dr. Pam Hudson says Madison County is still in phase 1A, meaning vaccines are given out to health care workers. On Tuesday, she explained who is next in line to get the vaccine in phase 1B.
"Citizens who are 75 years of age or over. The reason for that is that is the group that has the most devastating illness and the highest death rate," said Hudson.
Hudson said even if someone over the age of 75 has gotten coronavirus already, the current recommendation is that they should still get the vaccine. She also said the current recommendation for someone like that is to wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
Hudson also talked about other people who would be eligible to get the vaccine during phase 1B.
"Within that, you'll see what we have been referring to in our community as essential or frontline workers, city workers, infrastructure. Folks who are meeting lots of people because it's their job. People who work in grocery stores and pharmacies and things like that," said Hudson.
As for the registration process, Hudson said she didn't have any specifics just yet but to be on the lookout for that information.
Officials say the county is still in phase 1A because of scheduling and the high number of medical workers in the county who wanted to get the shot.
"If you've got a unit that's staffed with 20 nurses, for example, you don't want to send them all down to get vaccinated on the same day. So, we are phasing those so that we, if there are side effects, and somebody has to be out of work, we're not taking out 50% of the staff for that unit," said Hudson.
Hudson said both hospital systems in Madison County have distributed pretty much every dose of what they received for the first coronavirus vaccine distribution. She also said they are working to get the vaccine to dentists and pharmacists in the county.
Huntsville Hospital reports more than 8,000 vaccines have been given out to its employees. Hudson says around 1,000 Crestwood Medical Center employees were vaccinated already.
"We've vaccinated about 35 to 40 percent of our workforce and that's with some reluctance to get the vaccine simply because of the holidays. Didn't want to get the vaccine before Christmas, didn't want to get the vaccine right before the New Year's weekend," said Hudson.
Hudson also said Crestwood Medical Center received more doses of the vaccine Wednesday and will administer it to more of their health care employees as soon as possible.
Just this week in cities across the country, we have seen reports of ambulance crews being told not to transport patients because there are not enough beds and supplies at hospitals.
Even though Huntsville and the surrounding areas have much less of a population, we wanted to know if that was a concern here in North Alabama. Health officials say right now, there are enough supplies, especially PPE and ventilators, in Madison County.
"Our biggest shortages are not in the PPE and they're not in other supplies, and right now, they're not in ventilators. This issue is ICU capable beds and all the hospitals are repurposing rooms to allow for the care of very sick patients," said Hudson.
Hudson said county hospitals are operating at an all time high of COVID-19 patients. She also said the most precious resource right now is staff.
Because of the resources going to COVID-19 patients who need care, Hudson said there is a backlog in the emergency rooms.
"ERs are typically a place where high level care is rendered and so those patients who need ICU beds end up getting held in the emergency room longer than what any of us would like because our ICU beds are full," said Hudson.
Hudson also said another reason for the backlog in the emergency rooms is because coronavirus patients in the ICU stay in the hospital for a long period of time.