Oakland County Forms New COVID-19 Vaccine Partnerships as Demand Exceeds Supply

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Oakland County is launching a network of COVID-19 vaccine partnerships, with a few partners already receiving some of the county Health Division’s vaccine supply, to assist with inoculations when more doses become available.

The county is partnering with Honor Community Health, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Meijer, and its Health Division is working to expand the number of community partners.

“When the doses arrive, we will be ready,” County Executive Dave Coulter said during a COVID-19 update Thursday, a little over two months after the county Health Division administered its first doses of the vaccine in December.

County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford said the Health Division can redistribute doses to other state-approved providers for the vaccine.

She said the provider should be able to, among other things, schedule its own appointments using its eligibility lists or the county’s Save Your Spot list; vaccinate using its own infrastructure and employees; and administer at least 90% of the doses the county gives it within a week.

Officials hope to reach the county’s vulnerable populations through the partnership.

The county has given 300 doses to Honor Community Health, 975 doses to Meijer and 1,950 doses to Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in the last couple of weeks.

Dr. Nikhil Hemady, chief medical officer for Honor Community Health, said the partnership “means a lot to us,” and that the nonprofit community health center administered all of its vaccine doses within seven days of receipt.

He said patients in Pontiac were “elated,” adding “it just got them one step closer to eradicating or protecting themselves from COVID-19.”

Honor Community Health is a federally qualified health center. It also received 200 doses of vaccine from the federal government last week and expects 200 more doses next week, Hemady said.

Dr. LaToya Austin, associate chief medical officer for Honor Community Health, said the goal is to ensure greater Pontiac community members are vaccinated if they choose, particular those in the Black and brown communities. She said those who want to sign up to receive a vaccine can do so at vaccinatewithhonor.org.

Stafford said the county is looking to partner with all of its hospital systems and additional providers and will gauge capacity and interest; type of vaccine that can be provided; refrigeration and freezing options, and clinics that can be done in the community.

County officials say they want to be ready when more doses of the vaccines roll in.

Officials said the county’s Health Division has administered more than 99% of its 41,350 vaccine doses that it has received since Dec. 17. They said 41,323 doses have been administered.

The Health Division can administer up to 20,000 doses a week, but it’s only receiving 5,000 to 7,000 per week currently. Demand for the vaccine is exceeding supply in Oakland County and throughout the state.

Coulter is optimistic that more vaccine doses will become available, but he urged patience and continued vigilance against the coronavirus by wearing masks and social distancing.

“Everyone that wants a vaccine in Oakland County will get one, but it won’t happen this month or even next month,” he said. “But it will happen and it will happen with the help of our partners.”

Officials said the county’s seven-day average of coronavirus cases is below 100 and the seven-day average of deaths is zero.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter

Coulter also released more details about the county Health Division’s vaccination efforts:

  • The Save Your Spot list to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine has nearly a half-million registrations. Access the list at OaklandCountyVaccine.com. People now can remove themselves from the list if they received a shot elsewhere.
  • Residents and staff at 20 long-term care facilities have been vaccinated by the county Health Division, which has more than 70 such facilities not covered by the federal pharmacy program with CVS and Walgreens to provide these inoculations.
  • More than 14,000 Oakland County teachers out of about 23,000 on the Save Your Spot list have been offered vaccination appointments. He said the goal is vaccinate all those educators by the first week of March.
  • Thousands of people in the initial Phase 1A vaccination group, including front-line health care workers, still need to get their shots.

The county also produced short videos to help boost confidence for residents about the vaccine. The videos feature county residents getting their shots from the Health Division at one of several vaccination sites that operate around the county.

The videos are designed to be shared on social media and are published on the Executive Office Facebook page @OakGov.EO.

In separate, but related news, Coulter announced that he is nominating Stafford as the next director of the county’s Health and Human Services Department, replacing Kathy Forzley, who retired last week. The county Board of Commissioners is to approve the appointment Thursday.

This article was originally published in the Detroit Free Press and was written by Christina Hall.


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