The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is decreasing the amount of COVID-19 vaccine distributed to hospital systems, a shift that will make local health departments the primary administrator of mass inoculations.
Next week, state officials plan to decrease the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to hospitals from 40% to 30% of total doses, MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said.
The shift to send 70% of vaccine doses to the state’s 45 local health departments comes after the allocations were initially split 50-50 in early January when the Whitmer administration allowed residents over age 65 and certain front-line workers such as teachers to get in line to be vaccinated.
For this week, the state sent 60% of its vaccine allocated by the federal government to local health departments, which range in size from Detroit’s standalone department to the 10-county District Health Department #10 in the northeast Lower Peninsula.
The state’s shift to a 70-30 split between local health departments and hospitals comes after Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans have publicly complained about their respective county health departments getting too few vaccine doses on a weekly basis.
Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said the organization that represents the state’s health systems is “disappointed” by the state’s decision to send hospitals a smaller share of Michigan’s weekly vaccine supply.
“The MHA recognizes the need to adjust vaccine allocations as supplies change and more providers are ready to vaccinate,” Peters said in a statement. “At the same time, our members are naturally disappointed that they’ll be getting significantly less vaccine for the foreseeable future.”
Peters said hospitals have the “resources and expertise” to conduct large-scale vaccination clinics.
“However, Michigan residents for now should be aware that the majority of vaccines are being sent to health departments and it’s likely that fewer hospital-based appointments will be available, our members will continue to partner with the health departments as closely as possible to ensure communities get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
As of Tuesday, the state’s health systems accounted for about half of Michigan’s 1.07 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine that have been administered.