Since mid-December, Michigan Medicine has administered more than 81,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, resulting in more than 35,000 people being fully vaccinated.
However, vaccine supply from the state has not permitted Michigan Medicine to vaccinate as many people as its capacity would have allowed. In this Q&A, Dana Habers, one of the co-leads of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccine & Therapeutics Task Force, provides an update on the vaccine rollout.
Q: Will Michigan Medicine start providing vaccinations to main campus faculty and staff, outside of Michigan Medicine?
Habers: Since we started vaccinations in December, Michigan Medicine has stressed that it wants to eventually vaccinate all members of the U-M community who want the vaccine. However, the vaccine supply that Michigan Medicine has received from the state has not been enough to allow us to move quickly into populations like our main campus staff.
The federal and state’s vaccine distribution plan has sent much more vaccine to retail pharmacies and health departments. So we are encouraging all U-M employees to sign up for vaccines at any location available to them. It may be that U-M employees will get vaccine appointments faster elsewhere than at Michigan Medicine. However, we stand ready to administer as many as 20,000 doses a week, if the supply is provided.
Faculty, staff and students will be part of the Michigan Medicine vaccination program if we receive continuing vaccine supply from the state. However, they should also sign up at pharmacies, health departments, other health systems through which they may receive care, or mass vaccination sites such as the one at Ford Field in Detroit when it is their turn.
Don’t wait for a Michigan Medicine appointment. We want people to get a vaccine as quickly as possible. We would vaccinate more if we had supply and hope to be able to do so as the state receives more vaccine.
Q: Do you plan to vaccinate students, and if so roughly when? I saw that Michigan is open to all adults as of April 5.
Habers: Yes, the university does plan to vaccinate students when vaccine supply allows. We already have been able to vaccinate some of our medical, dental and other students who participate in providing direct patient care as they were eligible in earlier phases. However, at this point, the number of doses allocated by the state to Michigan Medicine, Washtenaw County and our surrounding region has been significantly less than needed to provide vaccination to eligible priority groups.
Students may want to seek vaccination where they live during the summer, as we are approaching the end of the school year and likely won’t have large numbers of appointments available to students by then. Students won’t want to get their first dose in Ann Arbor if they will be living elsewhere when the second dose is scheduled.
It is important that students are vaccinated before school resumes in the fall if possible. Students are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine before returning in the fall.
Q: How many do you expect to do per day or per week?
Habers: Michigan Medicine has the capacity to administer about 12,000 doses per week at our current sites, with the ability to ramp up to 20,000 per week. However, we have never received that much vaccine supply, although we hope to do so in the future. During the week of March 19, we expect to offer around 2,000 first dose appointments based on vaccine supply.
Q: Is Michigan Medicine using all the doses it receives?
Habers: Michigan Medicine administers all of the doses we receive. If appointments are missed, and it appears doses will be available and need to be used at the end of the day, Michigan Medicine has a wait list of people who are in eligible priority groups who are called to come in early.
Michigan Medicine also has vaccinated staff and volunteers at the vaccination clinic to ensure no doses are wasted.