Just over a month removed from reaching its highest peak of patients hospitalized at one time during the pandemic, East Alabama Medical Center reported this week that hospitalizations fell to the lowest total in months. 

As of Wednesday morning, 38 patients were hospitalized at EAMC and EAMC-Lanier with Covid-19, marking the lowest number of hospitalizations since Dec. 1. On Jan. 13, hospitalizations reached a pandemic peak of 92. Eight patients are currently on ventilators. 

"It's nice to be just under half of where we were a month ago," said John Atkinson, EAMC spokesman in a news release on Monday. "We're definitely trending in the right direction now." 

The vaccination process is also slowly moving in the right direction, with EAMC's Community Vaccine Clinic ramping up its efforts. The clinic administered 1,200 vaccine injections on Monday, more than its goal of 1,000 a day. Since Dec. 15, EAMC has administered more than 25,000 vaccine doses, with almost 17,000 people receiving a first dose and about 7,300 receiving both doses. 

Residents who meet eligibility requirements can sign up for a vaccine appointment at the EAMC Community Vaccine Clinic, which is located across from the Auburn Mall in the Market Square Shopping Center, by going to  https://eastalcovidvaccine.com/login. EAMC is scheduling vaccine appointments using a five-day "rolling" registration window, with new appointment times becoming available at 8 a.m. every morning. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health is also holding vaccine clinics from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Lee County Health Department located at 1801 Corporate Drive in Opelika. Vaccinations are by appointment only. 

To sign up for a vaccine appointment through ADPH, go to www.alcovidvaccine.gov. 

Residents can also check that website to find those groups currently eligible for the vaccine, including all ages 65 and over, and some groups of "essential" workers, including grocery store, U.S. Postal Service, public transit and childcare workers. 

Statewide, the total number of Covid-19 cases is nearing 500,000 and deaths have reached 9,257 since the pandemic began last March. Lee County has reported 14,641 Covid cases and 137 deaths during the same time frame, with fewer than five percent of cases coming in the last 14 days. 

While the number of Covid-19 cases is trending downward locally and statewide, the number of available vaccines is trending upward. The supply of vaccines could get a major boost soon as Johnson & Johnson has applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA for its single-dose vaccine. The FDA will host a public meeting of its advisory committee on Feb. 26, with approval possible by the end of the month. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing hospitalization, according to its Phase 3 trial data. In preventing moderate or severe illness, the vaccine is 66 percent effective.  

The federal government has placed on order of 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the company said it can begin distributing immediately upon approval and meet in full by June. 

The Biden administration has also made deals with Pfizer and Moderna to provide an additional 100 million vaccine doses each, in addition to the 400 million already ordered from the two companies. More doses could also become available from AstraZeneca PLC and Novamax once their vaccines are approved. 



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