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Local health departments work to get vaccines into arms more quickly

Nation is not meeting vaccination goals
Posted at 8:00 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 20:00:42-05

LANSING, Michigan (WXYZ) — As of Monday morning, the CDC reports just over 30% of COVID-19 vaccines distributed have been given to people. Federal health officials promised to have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of December, but only about 4.5 million have received their first shot.

Here in Michigan, about 26% of vaccinations distributed have been administered. Is that fast enough? What needs to change to make sure people who want and need the vaccine can get it as soon as possible?

At the national level, the federal government criticized states, saying they needed to be more efficient.

“We agree there is a lack. We are working with the states. We need specific requests for help,” said Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed Chief.

So how are Michigan and metro-Detroit faring as health leaders work to get vaccines in arms?

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard as of December 30th, about 26% of vaccines distributed to hospitals, health facilities and health departments have been administered to patients. The numbers are as of December 30th and the state says they could change as hospitals update data.

The range varies from 23% in Washtenaw County to 51% in Wayne County and 68% in Livingston County.

The Washtenaw County Health Department’s Public Information Officer, Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, MPH, says expect improvements as the holidays are over and staffing levels are ramping up.

“That vaccine arrival, those initial amounts, did come in right before the December holiday,” Ringler-Cerniglia said.

She says health departments across the country faced challenges juggling scheduled staff time off and ramping up vaccine administration. She says she expects to see a rapid increase in the rate in which vaccines are delivered.

“Moving forward that is not an issue and we are bringing on additional staff,” Ringler-Cerniglia said.

“Right now we are having to ration who is coming and at what time, because we have vaccine or we do not have it,” said Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, Wayne County Chief Health Strategist.

Dr. Hammami says large events are more efficient than small vaccination events. With small events, individuals have to be scheduled so crowds do not show up for vaccines that are not available. With a larger supply, you can become more efficient and invite larger groups of people who fit a specific category to come to get the vaccine.

Dr. Hammami also says another challenge is “No Show” appointments. For example, the county scheduled 1200 EMS workers and firefighters for their vaccinations.

“Only 900 showed up, so there is that reluctance still there,” Dr. Hammami said.

Dr. Jonathan Lovy who works at Beaumont-Trenton vlogged about what getting the vaccine has been like for him, hoping to help people overcome any reluctance. He says it felt similar to getting a flu shot. He had muscle aches and for a very short time hot flashes and nausea.

He is thinking of the patients he has lost to COVID as he shares.

“When they come in with COVID, it gives us physicians such a sense of helplessness,” Dr. Lovy said.

Dr. Lovy said he has seen first hand the potentially devastating consequences of the virus and he felt the side effects he experienced were worth the protection from something that has claimed many lives. He says he also believes that by getting vaccinated we will protect each other and end the pandemic.

“For me, this was a time, when I was getting this vaccine, this was a time to fight back,” Dr. Lovy said.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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

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