Western Upper Peninsula Health Department receives first doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Copper Country

WESTERN UPPER PENINSULA/COPPER COUNTRY, Mich. (WJMN) – COVID-19 vaccines have begun to roll out across the Upper Peninsula and Michigan. Before Christmas, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) received 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, the health department started to administer the first doses to Priority 1A groups and some of the WUPHD staff. 400 doses were given to UP Health System – Portage in Hancock.

The current prioritized phases and estimated timelines:

“We’re not only vaccinating our staff but we’re going around the community to try to get some of these 1A priorities that are a little bit more difficult to get,” said Kate Beer, WUPHD Health Officer. “So some of the adult foster care homes, or long-term care staff and residents that aren’t being covered by state contracts with the pharmacies. Just some of the outliers that aren’t being vaccinated by the major health systems in our area.”

Beer said the arrival of the vaccine has given hope to the five counties the health department covers.

“You know, it changed the mood a little bit around here. People are now hopeful and excited that we are doing something proactive to help stop spread the covid-19 with our communities. To go from just trying to prevent somebody from spreading to someone else to now actually being at the forefront of preventing it from occurring at all in our communities, it’s been a really great morale booster for our staff know that they can be proactive and do something that’s a major step towards prevention.”

WUPHD serves 71,000 residents of Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties.
With only 3,000 doses, more will be needed to cover Phase 1A priority groups in the five counties.

The 3,000 doses received only include the first of two vaccines required for the Moderna vaccine. A second vaccine should be administered approximately 28 days after the first vaccine given. The WUPHD has decided to administer the doses to 3,000 individuals and will give said individuals a second dose when they receive their second batch of vaccinations. WUPHD does not know exactly when they will receive this second batch, but it is expected to be in a month’s time.

The state and region are currently working through the Phase 1A priorities.

There are 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.

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