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Health care workers at top of list for coronavirus vaccine in Michigan


Health care workers are slated to be in the first group to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan if it becomes available, according to a draft COVID-19 vaccination plan submitted last week to the Centers for Disease Control by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

All state health departments were required to submit their plans to the CDC by October 16. 

"We know that the vaccine won't come out all at once with enough to cover the entire population," said Bob Swanson, director of the Division of Immunization at MDHHS. "So the plan involves trying to set priority groups."

Swanson said even the health care workers group may need to be  "subprioritized"  since initially there might not be enough vaccine for all of them. 

"Is it the emergency health care workers that receive it first?" said Swanson. "And maybe next urgent care?"

"We're going to want to get it to individuals who are going to have the most difficult time managing COVID if they were to get ill," said Bob Swanson, describing the next priority group. "So that's our older population, probably over 65, and in particular those that might have underlying medical conditions. That would include likely congregate settings like long-term care."

Swanson said another key group is essential workers like utility workers and grocery and food distribution workers.

"It's hard to determine how quickly we'll move through the priority groups because it depends how quickly the vaccine comes out and the quantities that come out," Swanson said, adding that it's too soon to know.

Swanson said MDHHS is seeking additional scientific guidance from the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Vaccination Practices before it finalizes its priority groups.

According to Swanson, the federal government will allocate vaccine doses to state health departments.

"We then do the allocations out to the providers that can get the vaccine to the priority groups," said Swanson.

Under the plan, vaccines will be distributed through hospitals, local health departments, federally qualified health centers, tribal health centers, pharmacies, school-based health centers , employers, and others.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.