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Some Michigan hospital systems running short of COVID-19 vaccine, curtailing appointments

Karen Bouffard Sarah Rahal   | The Detroit News

Some Michigan health systems say they're close to running short of COVID-19 vaccine and have been forced to curtail scheduling vaccination appointments for next week. 

The shortage comes as 2,576,000 people are qualified to be vaccinated under Phases 1A and 1B of Michigan's vaccine distribution plan. 

Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor and Spectrum Health in West Michigan are among health systems that say they've curtailed scheduling appointments for next week. Livonia-based Trinity Health said only two of its 14 hospitals have received doses of vaccine over the past two weeks. 

Michigan has only a small fraction of the COVID-19 vaccine needed to immunize everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine — 831,150 doses as of Wednesday.

State health officials blame the shortfall on reduced allotments to the state by the federal government. But only 332,139 doses have been administered to people, or about 40%, according to data on the state's COVID-19 vaccination website

Michigan received 60,450 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week and expects 62,400 next week, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"We have been receiving 60,450 of Pfizer for the past several weeks," Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said Wednesday.  

The state's allotment of the Moderna vaccine, about 300,000 doses, has been sent to Walgreens and CVS pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities, Sutfin said.

A spokesman for the 14-hospital Spectrum Health system said they've scheduled appointments only through the end of this week when their current supply of doses will run out. 

Michigan Medicine ordered 24,000 doses of vaccine for this week, but received only 4,000, spokeswoman Mary Masson said Wednesday.  

The University of Michigan health system placed a temporary hold on scheduling new appointments for the first injection of the two-dose vaccine because Michigan Medicine only has enough vaccine for the appointments it already has scheduled, Masson said. 

"We ordered 24,000 doses for this week. We received about 4,000 doses, which will be used for second doses scheduled for this week," she said in an email to The News.

Masson added that Michigan Medicine is administering more than 90% of its vaccine supply each week — and could give far more shots in arms if only the health system had the doses. 

"Michigan Medicine is ready and staffed to perform as many as 12,000 vaccinations per week, with rapid expansion capability to 24,000 vaccinations per week and additional locations prepared to open when vaccine supply is available," Masson said.

"We are eager to move into Phase 1B, which includes our patients who are age 65 and older and front-line essential workers, and we are actively working with state officials to partner on solutions."

Lansing-based Sparrow Health System has been vaccinating people by invitation-only in limited numbers, with plans for a wider public distribution beginning next week.

The mid-Michigan Sparrow system distributed 8,545 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday and plans to begin administering the vaccination this week to residents 70 and older and to essential workers, per the recommendation of the Ingham County Health Department. 

Sparrow has received a total of 17,725 vaccine doses and 99% of them have been allocated, said spokesman John Foren.

"We’re allocating doses based on our weekly shipments and have enough supply to plan through early next week, which is when we expect to begin our public distribution (for those 70 and older),” Foren said. "We have used or allocated (set aside for upcoming clinics) 98% of the vaccines we’ve received and have been singled out by the state for our planning.”

Foren said they are confident that the weekly allotment they receive will allow continued vaccinations for caregivers without interruption. 

“We have capacity for more but are grateful for anything we receive,” he said.

At Beaumont Health in Metro Detroit, Heidi A. Pillen, senior director of Central Pharmacy Services, said the eight-hospital system has enough COVID-19 vaccine to last through the middle of next week. 

"We currently have enough doses to run our clinic at full capacity through the middle of next week," Pillen said. "We have not yet submitted our allocation request to the state, so are not sure what (if any) additional allocation we will receive next week."

Henry Ford Health System is prioritizing existing patients who are 65 and older, patients who have certain high-risk conditions or meet the broader eligibility requirements announced last week.

Once adequate vaccine supply becomes available, Henry Ford Health System will open as many as eight appointment-only vaccination sites throughout southeast Michigan with the combined capacity to vaccinate between 4,000 and 5,000 people per day, officials announced Wednesday.

Nearly 32,000 patients, or 94%, of those who responded to a Henry Ford survey, said they wanted to receive the vaccine. The hospital system is contacting patients who meet eligibility requirements through MyChart, text messaging and phone calls.

The hospital has more than 800 appointments scheduled this week for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, officials said Wednesday.

About 70% of Henry Ford's more than 33,000-person staff has received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Approximately 22% of employees have declined vaccination, but are eligible to change their mind and sign up to be vaccinated. The health system anticipates all team members who want to be vaccinated will receive the first dose by the first week of February.