County health departments work to get more COVID-19 vaccine doses

Posted at 6:41 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 12:49:47-05

(WXYZ) — "The supply is uncertain," says Dr. David Vandenberg, V.P. and Chief Medical Officer at St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and Livingston County.

That’s been the main vaccine headline for weeks in Michigan.

In Washtenaw County at St. Joe's, "there’s been some weeks where we got no first doses," says Dr. Vandenberg.

Including this week.

Washtenaw County had to use most of this week's supply for 2nd doses and reschedule first dose appointments. St. Joe's only administered 2nd doses. Moving forward they are partnering to launch a mass vaccination site at Eastern Michigan University to prepare for the day more vaccines arrive, combining resources to serve more people more efficiently, as soon as they have the vials.

They are hoping next week's shipments will be bigger than this week's.

"We are waiting for our final allotments, but we think we will be able to open up first doses for next week which have been quite limited," says Juan Marquez, medical director at the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Meanwhile, St. Joe's has gotten resourceful.

"Yesterday we gave our 20,000th dose," says Dr. Vandenberg.

Which is technically more doses than they’ve officially received.

St. Joe's invested in special Low Waste syringes, enabling them to get more than the 5 doses Pfizer says are in every vial.

"You can get 6 doses out of it with out diluting full-strength doses," says Dr. Vandenberg.

Their supply of Low Waste syringes is running out, so they may not be able to squeeze out extra doses for much longer.

As the new more contagious variant of COVID-19 is spreading, Marquez says the county is increasing safety measures, extending the quarantine for those infected to 14 days, and increasing testing in the areas where cases have popped up. Hoping the virus doesn’t get out of control before adequate numbers of vaccine doses arrive.

"Our goal is to buy us time," says Marquez.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.