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Northern Michigan health officials announce vaccine rollout plan

Dr. Christine Nefcy

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Northern Michigan health officials announced their rollout plan for a COVID vaccine.

Hospitals and health departments announced their plans for the COVID vaccine - with the first batch expected sometime this week.

Dr. Christine Nefcy is the chief medical officer for Munson Healthcare. She said they expect to receive 2,925 doses.

“Our plan is to begin administering those doses on Friday,” she said. “The first healthcare providers and staff that we have identified are those who are directly working with or supporting the care of our COVID 19 positive patients.”

The rollout will follow guidelines set by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and CDC. The first group to receive the vaccine will be healthcare workers with direct contact with COVID 19, the next phase includes essential workers in health laboratories or mortuary services.

The final phase one-tier includes residents at the highest risk for COVID-19: those with underlying medical conditions or over the age of 65.

Nick Torney is a Munson Healthcare Infections Disease Pharmacist. He said for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, people will have to receive two separate doses.

“The FDA really does have a rigorous process for improving vaccines for safety,” he said. “None of those processes were limited in finding a safe vaccine for COVID-19.”

Wendy Hirschenberger is with the Grand Traverse County Health Department. She said the department expects to get an initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine within the week.

“While this vaccine offers hope we have to keep in mind that the vaccine distribution will take a significant amount of time - anywhere from 6 months to a year and it will be a phased rollout of the vaccine,” she said.

Hirschenberger said people should continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines as the rollout moves forward.

Jeannine Taylor Represents District Health Department Number 10. She said the department expects to receive the vaccine next week - although it’s not clear how many doses.

“We are receiving the Moderna vaccine as our first shipment,” she said. “We do anticipate getting that shipment late December - more specifically later next week.”

The general public is not expected to begin receiving the vaccine until the Spring.