The University of Michigan has begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and will start vaccinating its health care workers as the first step in a program to eventually distribute the vaccine to all members of the campus community who want it.

President Mark Schlissel and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge made the announcement in a Dec. 14 email to the U-M community. In a separate statement, Michigan Medicine said it expects to vaccinate a small number of health care workers Dec. 14 and more Dec. 15.

“This is great news and, knowing how challenging the last year has been for all of us, we are optimistic about these first steps on our road back to normalcy after this long journey with COVID-19,” they said.

Faculty, staff and students have been emailed a link to a questionnaire asking whether they want to receive the vaccine. The form also seeks health information to help prioritize vaccine distribution. The vaccine is not mandatory.

The university expects to receive more vaccine supply on a weekly basis, they said. “We will eventually have enough supply for all who want the vaccine.”

A UPS worker delivers the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Michigan Medicine on Dec. 14. (Photo by Joe Hallisy, Michigan Medicine)

Schedulers will contact those who want the vaccine to make an appointment, but the phased approach means people may not be contacted for several weeks after completing the questionnaire, depending on their assigned phase and available amounts of vaccine.

The university’s COVID-19 Vaccine & Therapeutics Taskforce is identifying the first groups to be vaccinated based on guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. MDHHS follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that are based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The populations for different vaccination phases are:

  • Phase 1A — 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.  
  • Phase 1B — Workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique skill sets such as non-hospital or non-public health laboratories and mortuary services.  
  • Phase 1C — People at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older.
  • Phase 2 — A mass vaccination campaign for all adults.  
A Michigan Medicine worker unpacks the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from its specially designed cold-temperature shipping container. (Photo by Joe Hallisy, Michigan Medicine)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version to include a link to the vaccination questionnaire.

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