More than 2 million Michigan residents are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting Jan. 11, but how and when these people will be photographed remains unclear, with many details yet to be worked out.
Teachers, first responders and all Michiganders aged 65 and over are already eligible for vaccinations, government officials said on Wednesday.
Who qualifies for the COVID-1
This is welcome news for many.
“The number one question I get from everyone every day is, ‘When can I get the vaccine?’ Said Todd Belding, pharmacy manager for Sparrow Health in Lansing. “People want that.”
He and other hospital officials welcomed the state’s announcement, amid calls to increase the pace of vaccine use.
As of Wednesday, January 6, the state had sent 725,850 doses of vaccines to hospitals, local health departments and other vaccine organizations. But only 174,749 shots were fired, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Among the reasons for this gap: The holidays have complicated the schedule of vaccination clinics; not all eligible in the initial round agreed to a shot; one third of the vaccine doses have just been sent in the last few days and there are delays in reporting the vaccine administration. However, there is a broad consensus that the pace of vaccine administration should be accelerated and this gap should be reduced.
Michigan is among the worst states in the country to implement vaccinations against COVID-19, according to CDC data
Opening the vaccine program to large populations such as teachers and senior citizens is the best and easiest way to increase the number of vaccinations in Michigan, Belding said.
“Large groups will be much easier to mobilize than some of the smaller groups, such as dentists and optometrists,” Belding said. That’s the way to do it if we want to move fast.
Even if the spread is confused, time is of the essence and the main goal is to vaccinate as much Michigander as possible as quickly as possible, experts agree.
“What I like about the state strategy is that they were really clear about their values,” said Marcus Cheatham, a health officer in the Central Michigan Health Department who runs Clinton, Gratiot and Moncalm counties. “The main value is: Use the vaccine. Put it in people. Because even a few days can make a difference in saving a life. “
But the short notice of next week’s drastic expansion has prompted local health departments, hospitals and other vaccine providers to struggle to implement it quickly.
Among the details that need to be addressed: Will local health departments conduct mass vaccination clinics? Or hospitals and other health care providers? Both? How and where do people make appointments to get vaccinated? Will there be screening to check eligibility or will it be in the honor system? Will these rules be set at the state or county level, or the organization that administers the vaccine?
“The broad outlines are very settled,” Cheatham said. “Companies are making the vaccine. He comes to hospitals and public health departments. People will look for information about vaccines online. They will sign up and receive the vaccine when it is available. This is really clear.
“But the moment, on which day you will get the shot, where it will be, who will give you the shot – these details are not settled,” he said. “Right now, today, most people can’t register. Most people don’t even know where to enroll. But all this will be completed “in the coming days.
In addition, the expansion of the vaccine program will begin slowly, simply because demand for vaccines is likely to exceed supply.
“It’s important to note that there is a limited vaccine in the state, so there will be limited meetings,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release. “With the advent of more vaccines, the country will be able to move faster through the priority groups.”
Provide a limiting factor for coronavirus vaccinations, even in Kalamazoo County, where
However, hospital staff say they are ready to move from vaccinating their own staff to people in the general public.
“We are ready to begin the expansion,” said Dr. Jeffrey Fishgrund, head of clinical care for Beaumont Health in the Detroit subway. “It’s really exciting.”
And what happens next?
Public health officials are mired in phone calls and emails from people asking for details.
These details will be published soon, they say.
The national coronavirus vaccine website will soon start providing links to local health departments once they start planning vaccinations. Retirees can also search online on the local health department’s website, as some have begun taking the names of people seeking the vaccine.
Through their employers, specific vaccination clinics for key workers are expected to be set up, similar to workplace influenza clinics.
For senior citizens, vaccination clinics will be set up by local health departments, hospitals and other health care providers, although details are still being developed.
Public health departments and hospitals can also contact eligible people using government lists of, say, teachers or licensed child care providers to invite them to make an appointment.
Michigan medicine will begin vaccinating patients age 65 and older on Monday
For example, Beaumont plans to reach everyone aged 65 and over in their patient database and encourage them to get vaccinated through Beaumont, Fischgrund said.
“We just need to pass on the message to the community now and determine how they can sign up for the meetings, so it’s not a small achievement,” he said. “Realistically, this will be the sending of invitations, and then the first to come when they respond to the invitation.”
Healthcare professionals do not underestimate the challenge ahead.
Trying to vaccinate the entire adult population as quickly as possible is “something we have never done before, no one has done before,” Fishgrund said.
And it’s not just the scale of the program.
“These are unusual times under unusual circumstances, with an unusual vaccine,” said Joel Strash, a Bay County public health officer. “It’s not like we can just line up people and get them through.”
He and others say these challenges include:
- Uncertainty about vaccine supply. “I found out on Monday how much vaccine I was getting on Tuesday of that week,” Belding said.
- The unique requirements for storage and handling of vaccines. For example, the Pfizer vaccine should be stored in special freezers at very low temperatures and should be used within six hours of reconstitution.
- The need to schedule meetings against the presence of walking clinics due to this six-hour window and the lack of vaccine doses. “You don’t want to throw away vaccines, which in itself would be a disaster,” Strash said. “But you don’t want tons of people to show up and then be vaccinated, because then you’ll have angry people.”
- The difficulty in scheduling meetings due to the uncertainty of vaccine availability. “The state told us, frankly, they don’t know how much vaccine they get from week to week, so they can’t promise us how much we’ll get,” Cheatham said. “So we can plan things, but they may have to be canceled. Or we may suddenly have an extra vaccine and then have to hire more people to get vaccinated. So it will be difficult for everyone, but we will try to provide as much information as possible. “
- Organizational issues around the planning of vaccination clinics that maintain social distance and ensure that recipients meet the criteria for receiving vaccinations.
- Because each person needs two shots, ensuring that people are scheduled for a second meeting with sent reminders.
There is also the fact that the vaccination program is largely decentralized, with local health services controlling much of the coordination. That means “you have 83 counties that coordinate in 83 different ways,” Strash said.
“It’s a good question, a fair question, why there is no more centralized strategy for registration and distribution,” he said. “But even with the best efforts at the state level, it really comes down to individual decisions at the local level.”
Brian Brasser, chief operating officer of Spectrum Health West Michigan, said Spectrum works closely with health departments in the service area of 13 counties.
It has helped significantly, he said, to be part of the Joint Vaccine Collaboration in Western Michigan, a network of local public health agencies and health care providers from Berrien to Kalka County.
“It’s invaluable, even if we don’t get exactly the same processes or the same priorities,” Brasser said.
“We don’t see this as a competitive advantage,” he said of coordinating with other health structures. “It’s about meeting the needs of the community. And I really understand from this collaboration that everyone is on the same boat and that everyone is pulling in the same direction, even though there are some unanswered questions that we are waiting for. “
Strasch said the vaccination program had already brought a number of surprises and expected more.
“We were surprised to get it before the end of the year,” he said. “Then there was the surprise of how difficult it was to actually spread due to storage and handling requirements. There was the surprise that people didn’t want to accept it at first, and now there’s the surprise about looking for it. “
But he also predicts that the process will smooth out quickly. “I know this from my experience with the H1N1 vaccine, how quickly and effectively we were able to stop the process in a few weeks,” Strash said.
Rapid marketing will initially mean a slightly confusing process, with health departments and health care providers intersecting as each entity maximizes its reach, Cheatham said. “It simply came to our notice then. And it will be confusing. “
But the sooner the program starts, the sooner more people will be immunized, said Cheatham and others.
“People who want it really want it,” Belding said. “They see it as the light at the end of the tunnel, and I really believe so.”
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