Where Did the First COVID Vaccines Go in Appalachia?

Ohio State employee Cory Coffey, right, administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo

A critical care nurse in Long Island is reportedly the first in the country to receive a vaccine for the coronavirus. Sandra Lindsay said the shot didn’t feel much different than any other.

Lindsay received her vaccine Monday as COVID-19 death rates in the U.S. reached 300,000, nearly one American every 36 seconds. Rural counties, according to The Daily Yonder, are reporting a record number of deaths due to the virus for the sixth straight week – more than 3,800 last week alone. 

As the first shots make their way to hospitals across the country, here’s a look at how states in Appalachia distributed their first shipments this week and are planning to distribute more COVID-19 vaccines over the coming months, and which groups will get the vaccine first. 

Alabama

The New York Times reported Alabama expected to receive 40,450 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the next few weeks. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state has a three phase plan for vaccine distribution based on need.

Phase 1 includes frontline healthcare workers, nursing home residents, first responders, other essential workers and people who are 65 years or older. Phase 2 could include teachers, school staff and people living or working in jails or prisons. Phase 3 would include the general population.

Georgia

Georgia received 5,850 doses of the vaccine, according to WXIA, and the state Department of Public Health says first will be used to vaccinate health care workers likely to come in contact with COVID patients, first responders, people with an increased risk of severe infection, including people over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions, and other essential workers. 

Last week, the Associated Press reported the daily confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infection rate in the state was up by more than 70 percent over the week prior. 

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia DPH, said that vaccinating the entire population would likely take until the summer. 

Kentucky

LaShawn Scott, RN, left, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Sarah Bishop, Director of Infection Prevention at University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s office told the New York Times the state expects to receive 147,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before the end of 2020.

The Courier-Journal reports 38,025 doses arrived in the state Monday. First in line to receive Kentucky’s share include front-line workers as well as residents and staff at the state’s nursing homes. The Journal reports 27,600 people live in a long-term care facility and 35,000 peopl ein Kentucky work in one.  

Maryland

In Maryland, the first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will – much like the other states in Appalachia – be reserved for hospital workers and nursing home residents and employees, according to the Baltimore Sun. The paper reported the state expected to receive 50,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and 104,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week. 

The first shipments will be enough to give the two shot formulas to about 155,000 people out of 6 million Maryland residents. 

Mississippi

WAPT reports Mississippi received a 25,000 dose shipment of the Pfizer vaccine Monday.

The first doses will go to critical-care hospitals for frontline health care workers exposed to COVID-19 patients. In the second week of distribution, if the state has enough doses, the Sun Herald reports vaccinations will begin at nursing homes and then other long-term care centers where COVID-19 is prevalent. After nursing homes, people who are at high-risk for COVID-19 and essential workers are next on the list.

Employers in Mississippi could be allowed to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for their workers, according to WLBT3. State law doesn’t exempt workers from being required to take vaccines.

New York

Nurse Frank Baez administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Tara Easter, a nurse manager of the hospital’s medical ICU, at NYU-Langone Hospital on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in New York. Photo: Kevin Hagen/AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced the state would receive 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and was the first to administer a dose Monday. 

NBC New York 4 reports the vaccines will be distributed to high-risk healthcare workers and hospital staff first, then long-term care staff and residents, first responders, essential workers and finally, the general population. Health officials expect it to take until next year before the state receives enough vaccines to start administering them to the public at large.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the first shipments of vaccines arrived in North Carolina shortly after 10 a.m. Monday. The News & Observer reports the state expects to receive 85,500 doses this week to be split between 50 hospitals.

Carolina Public Press reports the first doses will be given to health care staff and custodial employees who work with and around COVID-19-positive patients. Those who are patients or who work in long-term care facilities will also be among the first to receive the vaccine. 

Ohio

The first vaccines in Ohio were administered to hospital staff at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Monday, according to the Columbus Dispatch

Boxes of 975 doses were delivered to the hospital as well as four others in the state in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Eight more hospitals in the state are expected to receive the same amount by Tuesday night.

Monday’s distribution marked the start of Phase 1A in Ohio, which includes prioritizing vaccinations for health care workers treating COVID patients, first responders, nursing home residents and employees, assisted living residents and employees, patients and staff at the state’s psychiatric hospitals, residents and staff working at the state’s veterans homes and people with intellectual disabilities who live in group homes.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania hospitals are set to receive 97.500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, with the first being given to a nurse practitioner who works at UPMC’s Children’s Hospital.

WFMZ-TV reports the state has a three-phased distribution plan for the vaccine. The first doses will be available for critical populations, including health care personnel, first responders, those 65 years and older and residents living in congregate care.

The second phase of distribution includes vulnerable populations and people with health conditions or who may be at higher risk of complications, but will not be required for K-12 public school students.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported the state expects to receive 43,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine between Monday and Wednesday. 

“Our top priority is to save lives,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. “However, as the vaccine first becomes available, the number of doses will be limited in South Carolina, like in all states. We ask everyone to please be patient, wait your turn and listen to our public health officials. Doing this will allow public health officials to ensure the most vulnerable among us and those who keep us alive are vaccinated first.”

Front line workers and presidents and employees of long term care facilities are among the first to receive vaccines under the state’s distribution plan, as well as people at higher risk of contracting the virus and critical infrastructure workers.   

Tennessee

Tennessee is expecting its doses in hospitals across the state Thursday, but Monday, the Department of Health announced they’d received a box of 975 doses to hold in case any hospital’s shipment were to be damaged. The state is expected to receive 56,550 this week.

Phase 1 of distribution in Tennessee includes healthcare workers who have the most direct exposure to patients, first responders and residents and workers in long-term care facilities, according to 10News. They will be followed by pharmacists and staff, patient transporters, dentists, urgent care employees and mental health providers then followed by adults with two or more high-risk conditions like cancer, heart failure and obesity will finish Phase 1. 

Virginia

Some 70,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected by 18 hospital systems in Virginia this week. 

The first people to get the vaccine are healthcare workers who directly work with COVID-19 patients then other healthcare workers and people in long term care facilities, which will be distributed by pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens in collaboration with the federal government.

West Virginia 

In this image made from video released by the State of West Virginia, a nurse administers a coronavirus shot to west Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va. The 69-year-old Republican governor said he would receive a shot before cameras which would make him one of the first top elected officials in the country to get vaccinated. Officials said they want to demonstrate their confidence in the vaccine. Photo: State of West Virginia via AP

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice was among the first in the state to receive a vaccine, being administered the dose live during a press conference Monday morning. West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports he will be joined by other state officials leading the charge in the fight against the coronavirus, including the state’s coronavirus czar, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary, chief public health officer and the adjutant general of the National Guard.

The first-available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia are scheduled to go to health care workers, people who work and live in long term care facilities and others “critical to the community,” including first responders, and public health officials.

Kayla Gagnon contributed to this report.

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