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Local health department begins administering COVID-19 vaccine

HANCOCK – The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) began vaccinating priority groups Tuesday with recently received Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. As limited supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine have started to arrive in the area, residents are asking “When will COVID-19 vaccine be available to me?”

WUPHD expects vaccine administration to roll out over a series of months and is working with area hospitals, physicians, and outpatient clinics to distribute available vaccines according to a phased approach that has been adopted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The phased vaccination approach allows for continued functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community, while protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. These prioritizations may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccine products become available.

The current prioritized phases and estimated time lines are:

Phase 1A – December and January

— Priority 1: Critical health care

— Priority 2: Long-term care staff and residents

— Priority 3: Necessary health care

Phase 1B – Mid January

— Frontline essential workers who keep critical infrastructure functioning, and people age 75 years and older.

Phase 1C – Mid February

— Individuals at risk of severe illness (people age 65-74 years, and people age 16 – 74 years with high risk medical conditions) and some other essential workers whose work must be performed on site

Phase 2 – End of March/early April

— All other individuals age 16 years or older

The state and region are currently working through the Phase 1A priorities. Additional media announcements will be made as new phases are reached.

There is no out-of-pocket costs to individuals for the vaccine, however, healthcare providers may bill insurance for administration costs. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses separated by 28 days, while the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses separated by 21 days. Individuals should receive both doses in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccine is critical in slowing the spread and helping communities recover from the pandemic. Stopping the pandemic will take ALL our tools: handwashing, masks, social distancing and vaccines. Together, these tools offer the best chance of getting our communities, schools, and work sites back to normal. WUPHD reminds residents to continue using prevention strategies as vaccines become more widely and for some time after.

For more information on COVID-19 please visit www.wuphd.org, michigan.gov/coronavirus, or cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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