After teaming up for months to provide COVID-19 testing, the city of Mobile and USA Health announced today a new partnership to provide vaccine distribution.
Starting Thursday, USA Health began a drive-in vaccination distribution event for frontline healthcare workers and first responders against the coronavirus at the city-owned Civic Center arena, moving the entire operation, which started Dec. 15, away from its hospitals.
“This is the result of a nine-month collaboration between USA Health and the city,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “It started with a testing site at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and at that time the city contributed the facility.”
The drive-in vaccination facility was set up at the other end of the Civic Center complex from the ongoing testing center, which is taking place at the exhibition hall, USA Health Chief Nursing Officer Natalie Fox said. The site is still testing about 200 patients per day, she said.
Fox said USA Health has administered 5,000 shots so far and plans to do about 250 per day all next week; however, all of those appointments are for the Pfizer booster. Right now demand exceeds supply, she said, and it will be some time before the location will begin taking appointments for the general public. Capacity at the facility will grow as the supply of vaccines is increased.
USA Health will be providing an electronic signup for vaccine distribution soon, Fox said. The website will put patients in line based on when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health have recommended they get the vaccine, Fox said. The next group to be vaccinated will be those 75 years or older, she said.
The advantage of a drive-in facility, Fox said, is convenience for patients, especially older ones, who will be able to wait in a vehicle instead of on foot, in a line. Fox said a drive-in location also protects patients and staff from disease transmission.
Infirmary Health announced on its website and social media pages that its hospitals will begin vaccinating those patients 75 or older on Jan. 18. To help facilitate appointments, Infirmary has set up a vaccine call center at 251-341-2819. Infirmary officials ask that patients do not call the hotline unless they are currently eligible for the vaccine.