LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – 35,800 doses of COVID0-19 vaccine are being awarded to 22 pilot programs in an effort to help enhance the state’s vaccine equity strategy.

Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is the only one in the Upper Peninsula to receive doses of the vaccine through this program. The goal of it is to help remove barriers to getting the vaccine for Michigan residents ages 60 and older who live in communities with high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and high COVID-19 mortality rates. If providers have the capacity with their doses to expand vaccination to include people age 50 -59 with disabilities or comorbid conditions they may do so.

SVI uses census data to identify places where a community may have more difficulty preventing human suffering and financial loss during a disaster. There are 15 indicators that are assessed based on socioeconomic status, family composition and disability, minority status and language, housing and transportation.

“We want to make sure all Michiganders have access to the safe and effective vaccines as we work toward our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders age 16 and up as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health with MDHHS. “I want to thank everyone who submitted an application to support these efforts and to help increase vaccinations for those most at risk of negative COVID-19 outcomes. I look forward to more outreach to vulnerable communities as vaccine supplies increase. Your ability to get a vaccine should not be impacted by whether you are in a rural or urban part of the state, are lower income, are living with a disability, are not fluent in English, or don’t have access to a car, a computer or the Internet.”

Michigan providers who could help remove barriers for those ages 60 and older were encouraged to apply for the program. More than 70 providers in the State applied. Awardees were selected by a volunteer panel from the Protect Michigan Commission. Awardees could request up to 2,500 doses of the vaccine.

“I want to thank the volunteers from the Protect Michigan Commission who took the time to review these applications so quickly and thoroughly,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, Protect Michigan Commission director. “These pilot projects will help improve access to the effective COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan and ultimately get us closer to ending this pandemic. The safe COVID vaccine is the most effective way to protect you, your family and others from COVID. It will help the country get back to normal and help the economy. Over 1 million Michiganders have already been safely vaccinated.”

The following organizations are participating in the community outreach pilot project:

  • Advanced Pharmacy – Kalamazoo County
  • Alma Family Practice, P.C. – Gratiot County
  • Allegan County Health Department – Allegan County
  • Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) – Wayne County
  • Bay-Arenac Behavioral Health Authority – Bay County
  • Calhoun County Public Health Department – Calhoun County
  • Covered Bridge Healthcare – St. Joseph County
  • Cristo Rey Family Health Center – Ingham County
  • Dearborn Fire Department – Wayne County
  • Genoa Healthcare – Oakland County
  • Henry Ford Health System – Macomb, Wayne, Jackson, Oakland counties
  • Ingham County Health Department – Ingham County
  • Kent County Health Department – Kent County
  • Mid-Michigan Health – Alcona, Alpena, Clair, counties
  • Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc. – Oceana, Mason, Manistee, Benzie counties
  • Saginaw County Health Department – Saginaw County
  • Region VII Area Agency on Aging – Saginaw County
  • Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital – Schoolcraft County
  • Clair County Health Department – St. Clair County
  • Wayne Health – Wayne County
  • Washtenaw County Health Department – Washtenaw County
  • Western Wayne Family Health Center – Wayne County

They were chosen because:

  • They are federally enrolled to administer the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • They can successfully store and manage the vaccine.
  • They can identify a method for participants to get a second dose.
  • They can enter doses administered into the Michigan Care Improvement Registry within 24 hours.
  • They have strong partnerships with organizations that can help reach out to the community’s most vulnerable residents 60 and older.
  • They can help identify barriers and strategies to overcome those barriers for program participants, including, but not limited to: transportation, language, access related to sensory, cognitive, emotional or physical disabilities, vaccine hesitancy, etc…

Providers are expected to receive the vaccine this week. Doses must be administered within two weeks of receipt, with second doses being provided for administration four weeks later. MDHHS will review the status of the pilots as they progress to identify best practices for removing barriers. They will use this to inform their own strategic implementation.

The state’s strategy to get 70% of Michigan residents over the age of 16 vaccinated as quickly as possible is being guided by the following principles:

  • All Michiganders have equitable access to vaccines.
  • Vaccine planning and distribution is inclusive and actively engages state and local government, public and private partners; and draws upon the experience and expertise of leaders from historically marginalized populations.
  • Communications are transparent, accurate, and frequent public communications to build public trust.
  • Data is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision making.
  • Resource stewardship, efficiency, and continuous quality improvement drive strategic implementation.
  • The most recent vaccine prioritization guidance can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.

Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.