GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several viewers reached out to News 8 asking about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Many asked who is getting it, when and where in West Michigan.
Another round of hospital employees received the vaccine on Monday — some of those employees have barely or haven’t been in a hospital since the restrictions were put in place. It led many to wonder the reasoning behind those distributions when so many who are vulnerable are waiting.
“I hear their concern,” said Kent County Health Department Medical Director Nirali Bora. “I want my parents to get vaccinated, but we also really need to go by what has been decided for us.”
Bora points to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which created the vaccine rollout plan for the state.
Right now, we are in Phase 1a, which according to the state’s website 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.”
But some who have received shots so far are working from outside of a health care setting. News 8 asked the state why they are getting priory over people who are older and more vulnerable to the virus.
“(In Phase 1A), the hospital can vaccinate people who they need to keep the operations going in the hospital,” an MDHSS spokesperson responded.
Spectrum says it will have 15,000 vaccines distributed by the end of the week and Mercy Health has distributed around 5,000.
Phase 1 includes hospital workers, then staff at long-term care facilities, which began last week along with their residents. Dental, paramedic and home health care workers are next in the phase.
Bora estimates that between the end of January and beginning of February, those who are 75 or older will start receiving the vaccine along with front-line essential workers.
How the vaccines will be distributed to those individuals is still being determined.
Bora says the rollout depends on what vaccine is available because the Pfizer vaccine requires special cold storage.
Every week, the state makes requests for the vaccine, but as of now, it’s a waiting game for how many doses are shipped.
“I want to be able to plan, we all want to be able to plan further into the future. We just have limited information to do that,” Bora said. “I know people are tired of being patient. I completely understand, but we are still asking for patience.”
There are two more phases: first people ages 65 to 75 and anyone with an underlying medical condition, then mass vaccination. MDHHS has a goal of vaccinating roughly 70% of the adult population by the end of 2021.