A temporary COVID-19 vaccine site is up and running this weekend at the Alabama Fire College. This was a multiagency operation that saw workers from the Fire College, Tuscaloosa County EMA, City of Northport and City of Tuscaloosa on site helping with distribution.

This facility will be administering the Moderna vaccine to those who have made appointments online. The doses were provided by the ADPH.

"We've been planning this for two months, and it finally came together last week," said Fire Chief Randy Smith. "We started looking at this as soon as the vaccine came out. DCH initially started administering vaccines, and it became very evident that they would need some assistance. We're just doing our part standing up and helping make sure 2,000 people get inoculated."

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The garage that the vaccines will be administered in can hold 12 cars at a time, and on average 72 doses can be given per hour. Once someone receives their dose, they're directed to a parking lot to wait for 15 minutes to ensure no immediate side effects like an allergic reaction occur. Once they're cleared, they're free to go.

The site gave out 111 doses Thursday for what Chief Smith called a "soft open," to ensure there were no problems, and that this weekend would run smoothly. Friday alone, the facility is expected to give out 800 doses, with a total of 2,000 for the weekend.

"This is great for the citizens of Tuscaloosa County... This has been a great community effort from the beginning," siad Nick Lolley, Tuscaloosa County EMA Director. "The first lady that came through yesterday had a big smile on her face. You could see the tears coming out of her eyes - she said this was the first time in over a year she'd really felt comfortable. That's great to hear that citizens in this county are starting to get a little relief."

This temporary site will only be operational through this Sunday and will reopen in 28 days to provide a second dose for those who got vaccinated prior. This next round will be spread out over four days. Smith told The Thread that he hopes once the 1c group rollout starts, the site can be useful once again.

"We can get this facility turned around and ready to administer more doses within 12 hours' notice," said Smith. "That's all dependent on whether there's still a need there."

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