New state allocation strategy limits U-M COVID-19 vaccine rollout


The state of Michigan has revised its strategy for distributing COVID-19 vaccine doses in an effort to achieve a balance of efficiency, effectiveness and equity and target those populations most at-risk.

That change, coupled with an overall shortage of available vaccine, had led Michigan Medicine to recommend U-M employees age 65 and older, and those defined by the state as frontline essential workers, also sign up with their local health department and retail pharmacies to maximize their chances of receiving a vaccination appointment.

While the health system currently has the infrastructure to deliver 12,000 vaccines a week, it does not have sufficient supply to offer new first-dose appointments to people who are currently eligible under the Phase 1B priority group.

The smaller shipments of vaccine received from the state will be used primarily for second doses for those who are due, including vaccinated employees at the Flint and Dearborn campuses.

Michigan Medicine is working closely with local health departments and other health systems to facilitate distribution of available doses. As supply allows, Michigan Medicine will release new appointments to the priority groups.

The timeline and priority groups outlined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services indicate, depending on vaccine supply, a shift to Phases 1C and 2 in May and thereafter.

Michigan Medicine leaders have indicated that the state will follow a local public health strategy, with 60 percent of the state’s vaccine doses to be sent directly to health departments and community health centers, and 40 percent going to health systems like Michigan Medicine.

Additionally, Michigan retail pharmacies Meijer, Rite Aid and Cardinal Health will receive a separate allocation of vaccine from the federal government to help speed up the rollout of vaccines.

The number of doses counties will receive will be based on its social vulnerability index, a tool that uses census data to identify and map places where a community may have more difficulty preventing human suffering and financial loss in a disaster, Michigan Medicine officials say.

During the surge of COVID-19 cases in the spring of 2020, areas of Michigan that were most affected also typically had the highest social vulnerability index. These same areas will be prioritized for receiving vaccine while supplies are limited.

On Feb. 10, Michigan Medicine issued a letter to patients notifying them that, due to reduced vaccine supply, no new appointments for first vaccine doses were opened during the week of Feb. 8.

This change in strategy by the state has dramatically impacted Michigan Medicine, along with most health care organizations across the state, in their ability to provide first-dose vaccinations.



  1. Suzanne Davis
    on February 11, 2021 at 8:08 am

    What I don’t understand about this is how UMHS employees (people I know personally) who at home (not on site and not with patients) have received both doses, but my 89 yr old and 76 yr old emeritus faculty friends and neighbors have not been contacted to schedule a first shot. How is this possible? And what about all the employees working on central campus everyday? How were they not prioritized ahead of people working at home? How are these decisions being made, and by whom?

  2. Carlos Mendes de Leon
    on February 11, 2021 at 8:29 am

    I am afraid I have to echo the above comment, as I have heard very similar stories. From the outside, it seems that Michigan Medicine has been a bit cavalier with its initial roll-out, offering the vaccine to anyone in close orbit, regardless of whether they were involved in any patient contact, without a plan to target the most vulnerable among us. And that we are now paying the price for this strategy.

  3. Eric Overbee
    on February 11, 2021 at 8:39 am

    The above comment is accurate. It is very disheartening. Many (huge amounts) Uofm stay at home employees have already received both doses of the vaccine while many critical front line uofm workers have not and probably will have to now wait for quite awhile. I still haven’t received mine and I been working through this whole pandemic been exposed to many potential covid cases, it’s ridiculous. Something was not handled well and still isn’t!!

    • Susan Washabaugh
      on February 11, 2021 at 10:32 am

      I know in-person lab instruction that is currently occurring here at U-M in which the faculty have been exposed to many potential covid cases and while there is an effort to stay 6 feet apart, it can’t always be done.

  4. Ellen Rowe
    on February 11, 2021 at 9:43 am

    All essential workers and staff who are reporting to work every day need to be prioritized as do all faculty who are continuing to teach in-person, which include many outside of the “labs” and healthcare professions. The School of Music, Theatre & Dance, for example, has many faculty coming in to provide in-person instruction but there seems to have been no effort made to prioritize anyone outside of Medicine and Science disciplines.

  5. Todd Austin
    on February 11, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    A request for clarification on the text here – you write “…a shift to Phase 1C and Phase 2 in May.”

    Did you mean that both Phases 1C and 2 will begin in May, or that Phase 1C will begin now, with Phase 2 starting in May?

    Thanks very much!

  6. Billie Sturgill
    on February 12, 2021 at 7:24 am

    This rollout from MM has been selective and senseless. Frontline workers not getting it and those that have do not fit the guidelines. I really wish the state would investigate how this has been handled. And now those of us who fit the guidelines have to search out other avenues to get the vaccine and still have to be at work.

    • Samuel Kaufman
      on February 12, 2021 at 5:41 pm

      I’m sorry, Billie, but you are asking the same governor who sent covid-positive patients to nursing homes to investigate?

  7. Tully Svekric
    on February 12, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Apparently those employed by ITS were able to jump the line and get the vaccine early. I work for LSA Technology Services and have been working partially on-campus since the summer. Somehow those of us who must work on campus but don’t fit the definition for frontline essential work now will have to wait, yet those who work from home 100% of the time but worked for ITS got the vaccine. I am very upset about this.

  8. Samuel Kaufman
    on February 12, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Reading between the lines, I take it that the state of Michigan has interfered with the UM’s planned rollout. Perhaps fewer of you should have voted for Biden?

    Frankly, the whole “essential workers” business is annoying. Do any of you think Kroger employees have been vaccinated? Are you “more essential” than they? And as for those of us working from home, do you think we all want to continue to do so?

    Blame the president and governor whom you voted for.

  9. Christopher Godwin
    on February 19, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    One main issue here is that the state is not actually “following the science.”

    The science shows that throughout the U.S. and the world in general, no matter ethnicity, race, or age, men are far more likely to die from COVID-19 than are women. A multitude of valid, peer-reviewed studies show this, as well as the numbers from our own CDC. Yet, the CDC guidelines make no consideration of this in the “equity” component of their guidelines.

    Men are literally being sacrificed on the alter of identity politics because the public health community has been hostile to men’s health for as long as I’ve been involved, i.e., 25 years. They’re *literally* killing us men so as not to anger the adherents to identity politics. Shame on them.

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