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UPDATE: MDHHS explains change in coronavirus vaccine allocations

Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital says the new calculation is heavily based on metrics tied to county population, demographics and a social vulnerability index.
Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 10:21 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:55 PM EST
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MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital CEO Bob Crumb says his hospital did not receive the weekly shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and to his knowledge, no other U.P. hospital did either.

Crumb says much smaller shipments of the Moderna Vaccine were sent instead to Upper Peninsula health departments to be divided among U.P. hospitals. He says the Pfizer Vaccine is usually shipped in quantities of 975, and the Moderna is shipped in boxes of 100.

Schoolcraft has not distributed the Moderna Vaccine before. Crumb estimates that SMH will receive 160 Moderna doses from the current shipment.

With only receiving a fraction of the normal amount, Crumb says vaccine distribution is “going to slow down even more”.

“It came as kind of a surprise last week that they’re completely revamping how they’re going to distribute the vaccine to a population-based approach which really hurts the people of the UP,” said Crumb. “We were expecting to get a box of Pfizer today or tomorrow, we’re told we’re going to get nothing.”

Crumb says SMH has over 1,000 people in need the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. An order for Pfizer vaccine second doses has been placed and is expected to arrive the week of Feb. 8.

MDHHS sent TV6 the following statement in response:

“MDHHS is committed to accelerating vaccine delivery as we work to reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16 as quickly as possible with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

“Earlier in the vaccination campaign, health care systems were receiving a majority of the vaccine as vaccination began with Phase 1A which is healthcare workers and long-term care patients and staff. LTC staff and patients are mainly being vaccinated through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program by CVS and Walgreen’s while health systems were handling vaccinating healthcare workers.

“The goal was to vaccinate healthcare workers and medical first responders to keep them and their patients safe from the virus. Hospital systems provided MDHHS requests for vaccine based on how many staff members they stated fell into that group. Their allocations were based on those requests and vaccination of this population is still ongoing.

“The State of Michigan recently moved forward with vaccination of Michiganders age 65 and older; frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; workers in homeless shelter systems and congregate child care institutions; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers.

“This will result in a shift in allocations over the next several weeks as we get further into vaccinating these priority groups as these allocations are based on the populations of these groups in the counties.

“Hospital allocations are based on the percent of the inpatient population they serve in the state.

“MDHHS is using the CDC Social Vulnerability Index (CDC SVI) for to adjust the allocations of vaccine to ensure that communities at most risk receive vaccine during times of scarcity. The CDC SVI was used in establishing testing sites for COVID-19. The CDC SVI combines 15 U.S. census variables into a tool that helps local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, or after disasters. The CDC SVI is made up of indicators of socioeconomic status; household composition and disability; minority status and language spoken; and housing type and transportation. The CDC SVI status in Michigan communities correlates with the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 this spring, as well as areas of that state with high rates of risk factors for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”

Original story: The pace of coronavirus vaccinations in Upper Michigan will likely slow down as Michigan has changed the way vaccines will be allocated.

According to a Facebook post by Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital Monday morning, the new calculation is heavily based on metrics tied to county population, demographics and a social vulnerability index. SMH, along with other hospitals across the Upper Peninsula, did not receive its expected allotment of 1st Dose Pfizer vaccine this week.

Our Vaccine Distribution Team has an important message for the community. The State of Michigan has changed the way...

Posted by Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital on Monday, January 25, 2021

SMH cancelled more than 350 first dose Pfizer appointments over the weekend and have placed all individuals on a priority call back list. Moving forward, SMH says it will only open appointments once vaccine allocation is known to residents of Schoolcraft, Delta, Luce, Alger and Mackinac counties.

The hospital asks for your patience as it works to get the community vaccinated. The Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital COVID-19 hotline is open for questions at 906-341-3775.

The MDHHS did not immediately respond to TV6′s request for comment. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and new MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel will speak at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. eastern time Monday about the state’s COVID-19 response. You can watch the news conference on TV6, FOX UP and on the TV6 & FOX UP Facebook page.

The latest data from MDHHS shows 4.2% of vaccine doses distributed in Michigan have gone to the U.P. The U.P. has about 3% of the state’s population.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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