Michigan prepares to roll out vaccine for COVID-19

On the heels of federal approval, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the state’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a news release Friday, rollout will be in phases with health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities receiving the first round. Current estimates are that enough vaccine will be available for everyone by late spring 2021. Health officials hope to vaccinate 70% of adults 18 and older by the end of 2021.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will help all our communities eliminate the virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Because initial allocations of vaccine will be limited, we must prioritize how the vaccine will be distributed across the state and will use the guidance and principles outlined by the CDC and national experts.

“We want every adult to be planning now for how they will get their vaccine once it becomes available to them.”

Here are the phases:

— Phase 1A: Includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.

— Phase 1B: Includes some workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique skill sets such as nonhospital or nonpublic health laboratories and mortuary services.

— Phase 1C: Includes people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older.

— Phase 2: A mass vaccination campaign for all adults.

Timing of phases will be dependent on guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Priority of who gets vaccinated also may change as more information and additional doses become available.

According to the news release, there will be no out-of-pocket costs to individuals for the vaccine, however, healthcare providers may bill insurance for administrative costs.

The COVID-19 vaccine will require two doses, separated by three or four weeks depending on the manufacturer. Both doses are needed in order to have full protection from the virus.

While development and approval of the vaccine has been quicker than any previous vaccine, Khaldun said scientists have been following protocol and research methods.

“The process for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is scientifically sound, and no steps have been skipped,” Khaldun said. “People should know what to expect when they get a vaccine — such as mild side effects like a sore arm or low-grade fever. They should also plan on making sure they get their second dose to make sure they get the full benefit of the vaccine.”

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