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Vaccine to start arriving in West Michigan within weeks

Vaccine will be made available in tiers, with the first group including frontline healthcare workers and first responders
Posted at 5:07 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 17:52:36-05

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer will soon start arriving in West Michigan, with the first group of people approved to receive it including frontline healthcare workers and first responders.

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I believe you can start seeing vaccine in West Michigan in the next week, to week and a half," said Mary Wisinski, immunizations supervisor at the Kent County Health Department.

"While we're waiting for that, we're still continuing our planning efforts, which we've been doing since last August."

Vaccines are expected to be on the ground in West Michigan within a week or 2. Despite this, the majority of us will have to wait several months before being vaccinated.

“We are not currently scheduling appointments for the general public, nor are we keeping any lists. We are not at that point in our planning,” Wisniski told FOX 17.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced a finalized set of priority groups on Friday, giving direction on when different types of employees will have access.

Phase 1A includes paid and unpaid people serving in health care settings who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.

Phase 1B includes some workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique skill sets such as non-hospital or non-public health labs and mortuary services.

Phase 1C includes people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 and older.

Phase 2 is a mass vaccination campaign for all adults.

Metro Health already has specialized freezers up and running, ready to begin operations once the vaccine arrives on site.

“We are on target to receive 975 doses with this first delivery,” said Pete Haverkamp, director of pharmacy services for Metro.

"They're very effective, very safe. We're excited that we're finally going to be able to start helping the community, helping our healthcare workers."

The major hospital networks in West Michigan have been meeting regularly with area health departments, physicians and others in the healthcare industry to make sure vaccines are given in an organized and consistent effort.

"But the messaging that I would like to get out to the public is that, we will not forget you. We are finalizing our plans," Wisniski said Friday.

You can always find the latest information on the vaccine and COVID in general at the Kent County Health Department's website.

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