GLADWIN – Last Thursday, Dec. 17, marked a milestone, a new chapter of hope, when the COVID-19 vaccine was delivered to MidMichigan Medical Center – Gladwin. The vaccine was transported to Gladwin that morning by members of MidMichigan Health’s vaccination team clinic in Midland. The Gladwin vaccines were 30 of 2,925 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that were received at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland by UPS truck on Wednesday morning.

The first Gladwin team member to receive the vaccine was Judy Evans, R.N., resource nurse pool, MidMichigan Health. A resident of Harrison, Evans stated, “I’m excited to be on my journey to help start the end of COVID-19.”

Following Evan’s vaccination, additional employees and providers received the vaccine. Today’s clinic was just one of several being held at MidMichigan’s Medical Center locations in Alpena, Clare, Gratiot, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and West Branch. Those first receiving the vaccine will include employees from the Emergency Departments, ICU, EMS, medical and COVID-19 floors. In the coming weeks additional employee groups will be vaccinated based on the health system’s prioritization process.

“Our biggest goal with the vaccine is to encourage as many people to receive the vaccine so that we can help to end this pandemic,” said Lydia Watson, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president, MidMichigan Health. “We believe in the vaccine and the science behind it. We encourage our communities to educate themselves about the vaccine and how it will help us to fight COVID-19. We recommend getting the vaccine when it is offered to you.”

According to a release issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), distribution of the vaccine will continue with a phased approach, with an emphasis on both ensuring the continuing functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community and protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. The release does mention that these prioritizations may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccination products become available. These phases include:

- Phase 1A includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.

- Phase 1B includes some workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique skill sets such as non-hospital or non-public health laboratories and mortuary services. 

- Phase 1C includes people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older.

- Phase 2 is a mass vaccination campaign for all adults. 

According to MDHHS, vaccine distribution will continue to roll out over a series of weeks, and their current estimates are that by late Spring 2021 enough vaccine will be available for everyone who is recommended to receive it.

Those interested in learning more about the COVID vaccine may visit www.midmichigan.org/CovidVaccine.

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