State Passes Along More Moderna, Pfizer Vaccines to Health Systems, Health Depts.

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Michigan officials said Wednesday they received federal approval to redirect another 63,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses next week to health systems and health departments, a welcome development that vaccination providers have been clamoring for over the past week.

But it is uncertain how long the state will continue to receive the approximately 123,450 Pfizer and Moderna weekly shipments. The federal government hasn’t given the state future shipment information past the current week.

This week, health systems and health departments have so far received about 110,400 doses, minus 11,900 that were spoiled during delivery from McKesson Corp., said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The Moderna doses were reshipped to providers this week because they got too cold, an event McKesson hasn’t yet explained, state officials said.

Every Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informs Michigan and other states how many doses they will be shipped based on orders and availability. However, those numbers for the next week aren’t finalized until Thursday evening, Sutfin said.

Vaccine providers start to receive the current week’s shipment Sunday night and continue to receive deliveries through Tuesday.

Health systems and health departments have told Crain’s they need to be informed earlier and with more certainty about how many doses they will receive in order to schedule vaccination appointments.

Several health systems, including Beaumont Health, Trinity Health, and Henry Ford Health System, said they have received fewer vaccine doses this week than in previous weeks. Some appointments have been rescheduled because of the limited supply, spokespersons said.

Carolyn Wilson, Beaumont’s chief operating officer, said the eight-hospital system has asked the state for thousands more doses, but has been limited to about 3,000 doses per day. She said the system only has received Pfizer doses, but is prepared to accept Moderna.

“Beaumont has the capacity to administer roughly 50,000 doses per week and is committed to continue expanding that capacity to meet community demand and need,” Wilson said in an email to Crain’s.

Sutfin said she didn’t have data on how many of the 122,400 doses this week went to health systems and health departments, but she said the state is doing its best to keep everyone informed.

In a Jan. 19 statement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, but needs the state Legislature’s help. Whitmer asked legislators to approve federal appropriations amounting to $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Gov. Whitmer said the funding could help Michigan ramp up to its goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day.

Another $575 million in federal month is expected to expand COVID-19 testing, tracing, and lab capacity in Michigan, Gov. Whitmer said.

Vaccine administration numbers continue to go slow as supplies of doses have been limited.

As of Jan. 19, Michigan has received nearly 1.1 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna, with a total of 512,000 doses administered, a 46% rate, said Sarah Lyon-Callo, MDHHS director of the bureau of epidemiology and population health, in a Zoom press conference Wednesday.

The 46% dosing rate is higher than last week’s rate of about 37%, according to state data. Over the past several weeks, vaccination providers have increased inoculations, a positive trend based on health system and nursing home vaccination programs.

Lyon-Callo said CVS and Walgreens have administered 61,452 first and second doses to nearly 1,100 nursing homes and assisted living facilities as of Jan. 18. There are an estimated 300,000 long-term care residents and staff.

Sutfin said the Moderna doses, which the state has been reallocating to hospitals and health departments, are not being withdrawn directly from the federal long-term care vaccine “bank” that CVS and Walgreens uses in its nursing home resident and staff administration program.

At least 241,000 Moderna doses still remain in the long-term care bank, which are intended for first and second doses for nursing homes over the next two to three months.

“What we have done is deferred (Moderna) doses going into the program” and instead redirected the vaccines to hospitals and health departments, Sutfin said. “Rather than sitting in the bank, we want to get them into the arms of Michiganders.”

Sutfin said the state received federal permission to do so last Wednesday. She said it is unclear if next week’s allocation will be the same.

“We don’t know if it will come from the bank or not. It depends on how much (we receive) from Moderna and how much CVS and Walgreens uses,” Sutfin said.

But Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, said the association is opposed to transferring Moderna doses intended for nursing homes to hospitals and health departments. HCAM represents more than 500 nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“The 245,100 vaccines allocated for the federal long term care program will likely all be needed to protect this population,” Samuel said in an email. “HCAM is uncomfortable with the idea of shifting any of these vaccines to other outlets. As supply runs low for other constituencies, long-term care needs to have consistent access to the vaccine.”

Samuel said the long-term care program is just finishing the first of three rounds of vaccinations, mostly in the first dose phase.

“A statement that more vaccine will be coming is not reassuring when distribution to the state has been steadily diminishing,” she said. “The potential cancellation of the second or third clinics due to a lack of supply would be a disaster to the most vulnerable population and those who work to protect them.”

Despite the criticism of the perceived slow rollout of the CVS and Walgreens vaccination program, Samuel said the association believes the long-term care program is moving according to the original timeline.

“Vaccinating thousands of our state’s nursing facility residents and their caregivers is a monumental effort,” she said. “The plan from the beginning was to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff with the first dose over the course of three to four weeks.”

County health departments scrambling

Oakland County said it expected to receive 7,200 doses of Moderna vaccine this week, said county spokesperson Bill Mullan. He said the county continues to give out Pfizer second doses.

“When Pfizer ships first doses, at the same time they allocate the second doses to those receiving the first dose,” Mullan said in an email. “We will give out more Pfizer first doses when we receive them from the state.”

Mullan said Oakland County was forced Tuesday and Wednesday to reschedule vaccinations for sheriff’s deputies and several long-term care facilities because of lower than expected supplies. In all, about 1,400 health care workers, first responders, and essential workers were rescheduled.

“We typically do not find out how much vaccine supply we are receiving for that week until within 24 hours of the shipment,” Mullan said.

Bill Nowling, a spokesperson with Wayne County, said it isn’t expecting to receive any Pfizer doses this week, but it will give out second doses to those needing it. He said the county is transitioning to use 5,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine the state shipped Tuesday.

“We know people are frustrated with the vaccine supply shortages from the state,” said Wayne County Chief Health Strategist Dr. Mouhanad Hammami in a statement. “Our team is prepared to vaccinate more residents and better protect our communities as soon as we get more vaccine.”

Hammami said people with first-dose appointments currently scheduled for Jan. 19 and 20 will be notified individually of their new appointment time by the Wayne County Public Health Department.

Rescheduled vaccinations will take place at Wayne County’s new vaccine site located at Schoolcraft College’s Vista Tech Center located at 18600 Haggerty Rd., Livonia, Wayne County said.

All counties are informing seniors over 65 or older they should schedule a vaccine through their health system, not the county health department. Teachers and schools staff will be scheduled to receive vaccinations according to their school districts.

The Washtenaw County Health Department announced Monday it had to postpone a vaccination clinic Tuesday and a partial clinic Thursday after 11:15 a.m. because of short Pfizer vaccine supplies. Appointments Thursday will be rescheduled, a spokesperson said.

“This is incredibly difficult for everyone involved,” said Jimena Loveluck, health officer with Washtenaw County Health Department, in a statement. “We are working as hard as we possibly can to vaccinate eligible individuals as quickly as possible.”

Washtenaw did receive additional Moderna vaccines, but health officials said they are not yet set up to administer them because they must be handled differently.

Federal help coming — eventually

Since mid-December, more than 30 million vaccine doses have been distributed to states, including about 1.1 million to Michigan. But just 11 million people, or 36%, had received an initial vaccination, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled details of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that calls for allocating $20 billion toward a national vaccination program.

Biden and his pandemic task force set a target of administering 100 million doses of vaccine in the first 100 days of his administration in an effort to get the country on pace to achieve herd immunity by later this year.


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