MICHIGAN — Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was approved late Friday night by the FDA, setting off a rush to get the vaccine shipped out of the company's Portage facility by the end of the weekend.
Pfizer announced Saturday their vaccine would begin shipping early Sunday morning, however FedEx said in an interview with FOX 17 they would not begin shipping until Monday, Dec. 14th, so facilities would have time to prepare.
A spokesperson from Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids believes they are among the first hospitals in the state to receive the vaccine.
Spectrum has said in the past that they are prepared to receive the vaccine within 24 hours of shipping.
As of right now, the hospital is recommending their eligible employees get the vaccine, but are not requiring it. However, Spectrum Health believes the majority of their staff will want to get the vaccine, especially their front-line healthcare workers.
Bob Wheaton, Public Information Officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services told FOX 17 they cannot provide a list of the hospitals and health departments in line to get the vaccine for security reasons.
Wheaton said, "There are 56 hospitals and 16 local health departments receiving vaccines from the initial doses going out from Pfizer."
He added that the shipments go directly to the facilities once the leave the Pfizer plant.
Metro Health, University of Michigan expects their first doses of the vaccine to arrive between Dec. 15th - 17th, and will host their first vaccine clinic for their front-line staff on Friday, Dec. 18th.
Pete Haverkamp, Director of Pharmacy Services, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health said they expect to receive a minimum of 975 doses or up to 4,875 doses with their first shipment.
Mercy Health is planning for their first shipment to arrive by December 15th as well.
A spokesperson for the hospital said in-part in a statement.
"MDHHS believes we will see the first distribution of Pfizer vaccine by Dec. 15 or soon after. Mercy Health will also follow CDC recommendations for vaccine prioritization, including ensuring healthcare workers and our most vulnerable patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine first."
Dr. Russell Lampen, the Infectious Disease Division Chief says they're ready to vaccinate their staff and have created a schedule based on interest and and an employee's direct contact with COVID-19 patients. The feeling in the hospital is starting to be one of relief.
"One [reason] is the sense of peace, and it will bring when they get vaccinated. But this is also the beginning of the end." Lampen said of his staff. "And so we have healthcare workers that are working extra shifts that are continuing to work at at really high burdens with patient care. And so this is some light at the end of the tunnel, that this pandemic will be coming to an end."