It is hard to believe it has been nearly a year since the first novel coronavirus case was identified in the United States. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a horrific impact on many across the world, our country and in the MSU community, I am heartened by the fact that two safe and effective vaccines are being administered by state and local health departments across the country.
Michigan is beginning a massive vaccine rollout, but it may be months before many in our community will be able to receive this protection. The state of Michigan, using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has developed a prioritization for vaccination eligibility. As of today, tens of thousands of doses have been administered throughout the state.
Those being given the vaccine now are in the first phases (1A and 1B), which among other groups include health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities, first responders, K-12 educators, childcare providers and those aged 75 and older. Phase 1B includes K-12 educators but does not include faculty and instructors in higher education. Beginning Jan. 11, the state has announced that residents aged 65 and older also will be able to receive a vaccine, subject to availability.
Already, some MSU health care workers and first responders, such as members of the police department, have received their first dose of the vaccine through the Ingham County Health Department. The university is providing space at the MSU Pavilion for a health department vaccine distribution point. Only those in the appropriate phases are eligible to receive the vaccine. I am happy our institution can assist the local health department in this historic and vital vaccine rollout and grateful to the volunteers and our MSUPD employees who are helping at this distribution site.
I understand many of you are anxious to learn when you can receive the vaccine. As more supply becomes available, we anticipate the state and local health departments will begin making the vaccine available to the rest of those in Phase 1C (including ages 16-64 with pre-existing conditions) in late spring and those who fall under Phase 2 (all students, faculty and staff at least 16 years old) in summer. As that happens over the next several months, we will keep you informed.
It is important that you know the vaccine at this time is only being distributed via hospital systems and county health departments, not via employers. This means MSU is not receiving doses of the vaccine, at this point, from the state to administer to our employees or students. Anyone with questions about their eligibility to receive the vaccine should contact their county health department.
As the vaccine distribution continues, I urge all members of the MSU community to receive the vaccine when it is their turn. Not only will receiving the vaccine aid in protecting you from getting sick, but it also will help protect your friends and loved ones from getting sick. We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to provide a healthy and safe environment for those around us.
It is also important to remember that once you are vaccinated, it is vital that you continue to wear a face covering and practice all COVID-19 related safety measures, as it will take many months before everyone is protected. Employees working from home should continue to do so, even after vaccination, until they are told to return to work.
I understand that some of you may be concerned about the safety of these vaccines. As a medical expert, I can say with confidence that you cannot get the novel coronavirus from the vaccine. While the COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, stringent processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine approved for use. As a physician, I trust the science!
To battle this pandemic, all of us must continue to be responsible to ourselves and to our family, friends and neighbors. From wearing face coverings, to staying distanced, to monitoring your health, so many of you have done so much already. I am grateful and inspired by your persistence. It is the Spartan way.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
Ingham County Health Department vaccine information: http://hd.ingham.org/DepartmentalDirectory/CommunicableDisease/Coronavirus(COVID19).aspx#8789307-vaccine-information
State of Michigan vaccine website: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_103214_104822---,00.html
State of Michigan vaccine prioritization guidance: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/coronavirus/MI_COVID-19_Vaccination_Prioritization_Guidance_710349_7.pdf
State of Michigan FAQs: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccine_Public_FAQ_FINAL_710077_7.pdf