COVID-19 vaccinations started today at Michigan hospitals

LANSING — Frontline health care workers at two Michigan hospitals today were the first people in the state to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Michigan-based Pfizer, and today’s initial vaccinations mark a historic milestone in the world’s unprecedented cooperative mission to control and end the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. The vaccinations at Michigan Medicine and Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital begin the journey toward the eventual safe full reopening of Michigan’s economy, schools and communities. Additional Michigan hospitals are expected to begin vaccinating health care staff later this week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer thanked the state’s hospital and other health care workers for “tireless dedication, bravery and strength” in caring for the tens of thousands of residents who have fought the virus – and for being first-in-line for vaccinations.

“This is a great day for our families, frontline workers, small businesses, and Michigan as a whole. Here, in the state built on innovation and grit, a safe and effective COVID vaccine is being manufactured by Michigan workers at a Michigan business,” Whitmer said. “Our frontline essential hospital workers have gone above and beyond to save lives – including stepping up today to receive vaccines. And we have residents across the state doing their part to eradicate the virus and keep our communities safe. Remember: it will take some time for the vaccine to be widely distributed to everyone. That’s why it’s so important that we all do our part by masking up, practicing safe social distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. This is a historic day in Michigan. We will get through this together.”

In the face of the most massive vaccination effort our world has ever seen, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, expressed her confidence in the first approved COVID-19 vaccine.

“The significant impact of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented, worldwide collaboration among scientists, medical doctors, health and government officials, and manufacturers,” Khaldun said. “The arrival of this vaccine in Michigan signals that the end of this pandemic is near.  However, it will take several months before we are able to have enough vaccine to widely distribute it to the general population. Until then, and even for individuals who receive the vaccine, we should all be doing our part to slow the spread of this virus by wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, and washing hands.”

Brian Peters, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said the medical, support and executive teams at the state’s hospitals have been on the frontlines treating COVID-19 patients from the start of the pandemic and now “stand proud and grateful to lead the state’s public health and economic recovery from a virus that has devastated far too many lives, families, businesses and communities.”

“As vaccinations start today with the health care heroes at hospitals statewide, Michigan is now on course to move out of the darkness of pandemic to economic and public health recovery,” Peters said.

In the coming days and weeks, vaccine doses will arrive at additional Michigan hospitals and other medical centers across the state. The first Michigan citizens to be vaccinated will be priority hospital and health care workers, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

Even with COVID-19 vaccinations starting in Michigan and worldwide, doctors urge everyone to continue to practice preventative measures such as properly wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing to reduce the spread of the virus until the vast majority of people have been vaccinated.

People with questions about vaccines – including the COVID-19 vaccines – should consult a credible source with answers based on medical science, officials said. Sources for vaccine information based entirely on medical science include IVaccinate.org, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC. A comprehensive set of questions and answers about COVID-19 can be found at Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.

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