MDHHS gives update on COVID-19 vaccination strategy

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials on Friday held a briefing to explain their goals for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, explaining how they plan to reach 70% of Michigan residents ages 16 and up as quickly as possible.

The information was presented in a virtual briefing with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive.

The state has set goals that 90% of doses are in an arm within a week of being received by a distribution facility, that 95% of people vaccinated get their second dose within the optimum time frame, and that no one in the state will have to drive more than 20 minutes to get a shot.

Also among the state’s goals is a promise to deliver the vaccine equitably, which it is doing by utilizing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index, which take into account a number of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic factors to help determine who is at highest risk for poor health outcomes.

The state’s five strategies to reach its vaccination goals include:

  1. Get more people vaccinated, expanding capacity, prioritizing and reaching out to those who are vulnerable and ensuring equity, including through mobile clinics.
  2. Build a robust network of vaccination sites by setting up mass vaccination sites across the state and partnering with pharmacies, emergency rooms and primary care clinics and federally qualified health centers for widespread, easy access.
  3. Promote efficiency in vaccine delivery and administration by maximizing the use of every dose sent to the state. Khaldun noted this is “the most massive vaccination effort that anyone has ever undertaken,” so the state must be responsive to challenges.
  4. Mobilize personnel to maximize vaccination efforts, including volunteers, medical students and the Michigan National Guard.
  5. Empower people with information to gain confidence to get vaccinated by offering information on a wide scale and working with community leaders to combat hesitancy.

The state still expects not to get to the final phase of the rollout, which includes everybody age 16 and up, until August at the earliest, but Hertel said she is optimistic that may change if the federal government keeps its promise to speed up the flow of vaccines into the state.

The core problem with the vaccine rollout now, the state says, is the limited number of vaccine doses being sent to Michigan by the federal government. The state says Michigan facilities have the capacity to administer 80,000 doses a day, but the supply is preventing that.

Officials have stressed that the state itself never takes possession of doses — they go directly to distribution centers like health departments and hospitals. But because supply is still limited, it has been impossible to reach many people at once.

But things are looking up: In the last week, Hertel and Khaldun said, the state has gotten about a 20% increase in doses distributed.

Officials advise people who are having trouble getting an appointment to call 211 for help navigating the process.

Hertel delivered a similar presentation in front of the Michigan House Oversight Committee Thursday.

  

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