Officials say vaccination effort is being hampered by lack of supply
Wed, 01/13/2021 - 8:18pm caleb
District Health Department #10 halts online appointment scheduling due to shortage of COVID-19 vaccine
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Michigan is ready to provide more COVID-19 vaccinations to residents, but it needs more doses of the vaccine, according to area healthcare representatives and state officials.
Dianne Michalek, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Munson Healthcare, during an online press conference on Tuesday, January 12, said approximately 5,500 Munson Healthcare “team members” – 61 percent of “eligible employees and credentialed providers” – have received COVID-19 vaccine.
“Last week we reported that we had vaccinated 51.3 percent of our healthcare team, so as you can see, just within a week we have made some great strides,” Michalek said.
Michalek said the state announced on January 6 that vaccination efforts could begin for Phase 1B – some categories of “essential workers” (first responders, educators, child care workers, jail/corrections staff) and people over the age of 75 – on January 11, so Munson Healthcare, which owns several northern Michigan hospitals, prepared “for patient vaccine clinics” on January 7-9, notified eligible patients on January 10, started scheduling eligible people for vaccines on January 11, and administered doses on January 12.
“We quickly pivoted, we quickly took all of the learnings we had from vaccinating our own healthcare workers and quickly worked to stand up some clinics for our first patients to receive those doses,” Michalek said.
Michalek said Munson Healthcare planned to add more clinics as last week progressed.
“Our goal this week is to vaccinate 2,000 patients and then next week another 2,000 patients,” Michalek said.
Michalek and other Munson Healthcare officials said supply of the vaccine has been a question as they try to plan for vaccination efforts.
“There’s still an uncertain amount of supply as we get allocated supply from the state,” Michalek said.
“The way it works is we make a request, as does every other health department and healthcare organization across the state, about how much vaccine we want and then actually the federal government allocates however much vaccine they have to each state and then the state allocates it back out,” said Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer. “As an example, we got less than a thousand doses this week of vaccine and we’ve been told we’re not receiving new Moderna vaccine until the end of the month.”
“What we request and what we want to give out isn’t always the same as what we receive,” Dr. Nefcy said. “We continue to work with the state and meet with them regularly, as do our health departments, to try to understand how much vaccine we’re getting and then we adjust our clinics for what we think we will receive.”
“The goal broadly is to get as much vaccine into arms as quickly as we can and that is going to be fluid,” Dr. Nefcy said. “We got our first allocation of vaccine on the 17th. It’s changed significantly even since then. We are trying to coordinate with everybody that is going to be receiving vaccine and that’s even different, like none of our clinics have received vaccine yet. Our health departments have and our hospitals have and so we’re really just trying to work together as best we can to ultimately get all of the people that fall into these categories immunized as quickly as possible, but it’s a huge undertaking and we still aren’t entirely sure – and neither is the state – about how much vaccine we’ll be getting,” Dr. Nefcy said.
District Health Department #10, which covers 10 counties in northern Michigan (including Crawford), recently had to halt its online vaccine scheduling due to lack of supply.
Dr. Jennifer Morse, District Health Department #10 Medical Director, asked for people to be patient as the effort continues.
“We are working as quickly as humanly possible with this and really are limited by the amount of vaccine that we have,” Dr. Morse said.
Dr. Morse said District Health Department #10 vaccinated approximately 1,400 people on Friday, January 8, and close to 1,500 people on Monday, January 11.
District Health Department #10, as of Wednesday, January 13, was still not accepting appointments for vaccine.
“Due to vaccine shortage, we have reached full capacity for our clinics. We will post the link again to schedule once vaccine is available,” according to the District Health Department #10 website. “Some individuals who are already scheduled may be cancelled or rescheduled due to vaccine shortage. We will notify you of cancellation or reschedule via the email you entered when you scheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and ask for your continued patience.”
Health department officials asked people to continue to monitor the website at www.dhd10.org for the latest information.
“Right now we’ve already allocated out all the vaccine that we have,” Dr. Morse said. “In fact, we have had to cancel some appointments because we did not get all that we were hoping for.”
State officials – during a televised COVID-19 update on Wednesday, January 13 – said healthcare facilities are doing well in their vaccination efforts but they need more supply.
“We are making progress in our efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible in the state,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive. “We are continuing to see increases in the number of people vaccinated each week. Our local health departments, healthcare systems, pharmacies, and others are building out and implementing their vaccination plans. Overall I’m pleased with the progress we are making.”
“Our team is working around the clock to help registered providers – there are 1,218 of them – put as many shots in arms as possible each day,” said Tricia Foster, Chief Operating Officer of Michigan. “We’ve remained flexible so that we can adjust to whatever news we hear from the federal government about either more or less supply.”
Foster said the recent news has been about less supply.
“There is currently not enough supply to allow every eligible Michigander to obtain a vaccine appointment. We’re as disappointed as you,” Foster said. “We were originally told that Michigan would receive over 300,000 vaccines per week and planned accordingly, but that weekly number has been significantly reduced. Michigan has received only 60,000 Pfizer vaccines per week for the past few weeks and those have been distributed to providers.”
“Our original plan was vaccinate nearly 50,000 people per day and that is impossible with the number of vaccines we are receiving each week,” Foster said. “There is not enough vaccine to go around.”
“Every dose of the vaccine that we have received has been delivered to a provider and that provider has scheduled the dose to be administered. The state of Michigan is not sitting on doses of vaccine,” Foster said.
State officials said they’re trying to get more vaccine through allocation requests to the federal government, and they’re also trying to get authorization to purchase more doses.
“We have the tools and resources, we only need the supply,” Foster said. “We are encouraged that Michiganders are interested in getting vaccinated and we are disappointed that there are not currently enough vaccines to get each one of you an appointment.”
Munson Healthcare, during its online press conference on January 12, offered a “preliminary vaccination timeline” that says Michigan’s vaccination effort will likely continue throughout all of 2021, and it may not finish with the general population until December.