vaccine sign

Siri Hedreen / The Outlook

Lake Martin Community Hospital has run out of COVID-19 vaccine and is currently awaiting replenishment from the state.

Ivy Creek Healthcare marketing director Heidi Smith said Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) confirmed LMCH's request for more Pfizer doses Wednesday, with the shipment expected to arrive within three to five days.

In addition to halting vaccine appointments, the Dadeville hospital has had to cancel some of its appointments for second doses, which LMCH automatically schedules three weeks after a patient receives their first Pfizer dose. According to FDA rules, the second Pfizer dose must be administered anywhere within three to five weeks after a patient receives their first dose. Smith said Lake Martin Community Hospital expects replenishment to arrive before the patients' two-week window for a second dose is up.

LMCH is one of two hospitals owned by Ivy Creek Healthcare. According to Smith, the other hospital, Elmore Community Hospital in Wetumpka, has "more shots than we can even get distributed." However, since Elmore Community Hospital administers Moderna vaccines and LMCH administers Pfizer, Ivy Creek was unable to reschedule Dadeville patients in Wetumpka.

Smith said she did not know when the shortage began but assured "it's been under two weeks."

"And that does not affect their immunity in any way," Smith said. "They have a window of time. The time we schedule them for in the hospital is just a suggestion.

"It's a problem of ADPH, which is not getting them down there," she said.

In its vaccine allocation guidelines, ADPH tells COVID-19 vaccine providers to use up vaccine supply as quickly as possible and not to earmark half the supply for second doses, which slows down the pace of shipments.

"Some people will try to hold those vaccines," Smith said. "If they receive 500 they'll give 250. But the Alabama Department of Public Health said not to do that."

Smith said she does not know how many appointments were canceled, but "nobody has been affected because they're going to be able to receive them."

Lake Martin Community Hospital was one of the first 20 Alabama hospitals in December to receive the Pfizer vaccine, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the FDA. Russell Medical and MainStreet Family Care started providing the Moderna vaccine after it was approved in late December.

In March, MainStreet Family Care canceled about 1,400 second dose appointments when it ran out of COVID-19 vaccine at all its clinics but one. The provider was eventually able to vaccinate 839 of those patients just within the two-week window, after the rest had found appointments elsewhere.   

MainStreet marketing officer Betsy Stewart said the shortage was caused by a number of logistical issues, including shipping weather delays, missed appointments and differing numbers of doses per vial.

Patients seeking a COVID-19 vaccination can search nearby providers by type of vaccine at vaccines.gov.