vaccine stock photo

Submitted / The Outlook

MainStreet Family Care received about 900 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at each of its clinics last week, including the Alexander City clinic on U.S. Highway 280.

Vaccinations for frontline health workers began at the Alex City clinic on Tuesday and will continue seven days a week, with a maximum of 20 doses per day, MainStreet Family Care chief sales and marketing officer Betsy Stewart said.

The Moderna COVID-19 was the second vaccine to be approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month. The vaccine is administered in two doses 28 days apart, meaning each MainStreet clinic will have enough doses for 450 patients. The vaccines last in the freezer for six months, Stewart said.

Vaccines are allocated according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) guidelines and are currently still reserved for phase one recipients, including clinical and non-clinical frontline health workers in hospitals, nursing homes and in-home care. MainStreet Family Care is awaiting further instruction from ADPH on when to proceed with the next phase, Stewart said.

"We are kind of waiting for feedback on that," she said.

Stewart said that despite the 20-vaccine maximum, most clinics have been giving less than 10 vaccines per day in the last two days.

"There are ten doses in a vial," she said. "Once you puncture a vial it's only good for six hours."

According to Stewart, unless appointments are made in multiples of 10, some of the MainStreet clinics have been left with extra doses at the end of the day. Some nearby clinics with fewer than 10 appointments are combining their services in order to avoid having to open two vials.

Others have adopted the policy of giving leftover doses to vulnerable family members or other clinic patients.

"Obviously we want it to be available for frontline workers, but we don't want to waste vaccines," Stewart said.

In the meantime, frontline health workers can make an appointment online to receive their free same-day vaccination.

According to ADPH guidelines, the next phase of the vaccine allocation will be for "essential workers at highest risk for work-related exposure" and elderly patients.

Stewart encourages patients to check the MainStreet website frequently as vaccine eligibility expands.