Most of UMC’s COVID-19 vaccines are gone, but more are on the way

There’s a chance students might get the vaccine this spring.


Courtesy of UA News

A health care worker at University Medical Center prepares to vaccinate medical professionals in UA’s first rollout of the Moderna vaccine.

Kelby Hutchison | @thetallcwrepor1, Contributing Writer

Most of the University’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed. UA health officials say some student employees will be included in the next priority group. The University is expecting another shipment, but the timeline and quantity have not been disclosed. 

About 90% of the 4,500 first doses and one third of the second doses are gone. Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS), said he is communicating with the Alabama Department of Public Health daily to secure a new shipment. 

“It really is, unfortunately, the wild, Wild West out there, when it comes to vaccine distribution,” he said. 

The University received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in its initial shipment but will receive Pfizer’s next time. Friend said the Pfizer vaccine is “harder to handle” because it has to be stored at a cooler temperature, but that the University is prepared. 

Vaccine distribution, which previously took place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, will now take place only on the weekends to avoid disrupting clinical activities at UMC, according to Friend. 

CCHS distributed its first vaccines through the University Medical Center during the first weekend in January after receiving about 3,500 doses. The vaccine was initially offered to healthcare providers, first responders, Capstone Village residents and employees and other vulnerable populations. 

Beginning Jan. 15, the University offered vaccines to individuals aged 75 years and older who are UMC patients, UA retirees or UA emeritus faculty. Other on-campus faculty and residents who belonged to this group were also notified. 

Since then, the University received about 1,000 additional first doses and 3,500 total second doses; the current distribution plan prioritizes UA faculty, staff and frontline contract workers, which includes dining, service and transit workers. 

Friend said 70% of faculty and staff who were offered the vaccine have accepted. Faculty Senate President Rona Donahoe said the University hopes to finish initial immunizations of faculty and staff in the next two weeks. 

During last week’s Professional Staff Assembly meeting, Friend said that many of the faculty and staff who declined vaccines were getting vaccinated at other locations. Those who were vaccinated elsewhere are being asked to complete a form to expedite the distribution process.  

After two weeks, Donahoe said the University plans to prioritize 2,500 graduate teaching assistants, students interning on campus and nursing students in clinical training. 

“Initially, they thought there was probably no chance of student vaccinations taking place this semester. And now we have a glimmer of hope that some of that can be done,” Donahoe said.