Michigan entered Phase 1B of its vaccination rollout plan in January. Here are the answers to questions on everyone’s minds.
MICHIGAN—Michiganders started the new year with over 500,000 coronavirus cases in the state and more than 13,000 neighbors who lost their lives.
But there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel: a vaccine.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership during the pandemic was met with personal attacks and a refusal from President Donald Trump to help local families in the ways they needed, but now the scientific and medical communities have worked to develop multiple effective vaccines that is projected to bring a historic pandemic to its end.
Michigan is at the center of the historic distribution. We break down everything a Michigander should know about what the vaccine means at home.
Is There a COVID Vaccine?
Two vaccines have been approved by the FDA for human use. Your healthcare provider can help you decide which vaccine is best for you.
Who Is Making the COVID Vaccine for Michiganders?
Although the Pfizer vaccine is manufactured in Michigan, both it and the vaccine developed by Moderna are available to Michiganders. Consult your healthcare provider for information on which vaccine is best for you.
When Will a COVID Vaccine be Available to the Michigan Public?
The vaccination process will begin on a rolling basis.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vaccination rollout plan is divided into stages to allow priority groups first access to the vaccine, with a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of Michigan’s population by the end of 2021.
Health care workers, long-term care residents and staff are among the first group eligible to be vaccinated. This group is known as “1A.”
Group 1B includes Michiganders over age 75, among others.
Is the Vaccine Safe for Michiganders?
The vaccine development process is a rigorous, comprehensive process that begins with testing new vaccines on animals, such as mice or monkeys, to see if it produces an immune response.
Scientists later gave the vaccine to humans in three separate phases, beginning with a small number of people in phase one in order to test safety and dosage and determine if it triggers the immune system.
In phase two, scientists gave the vaccine to hundreds of people across different age ranges and at different levels of health, in order to see how the vaccine behaves among different populations both in and out of Michigan.
In the third and final phase, tens of thousands of people received the vaccine, and scientists compare their health outcomes with test subjects who received a placebo. This effectively shows whether the vaccine protects against COVID-19 and whether the vaccines produce any rare or dangerous side effects.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have gone through these phases to ensure safety. According to the FDA, both vaccines are about 95% effective against COVID-19 infections.
Some participants in the trials did experience side effects, including fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue after receiving the shots, but those symptoms generally did not last more than a day.
Also, such reactions are usually a sign that the body’s immune response is being activated as intended.
Who Will Get Vaccines First in Michigan?
Michigan’s healthcare workers and those who work or reside in long-term care facilities are among the first to be vaccinated.
When Will Other Michiganders Get a Vaccine?
Gov. Whitmer’s vaccine rollout schedule extends throughout the year, offering opportunities for all residents to receive vaccines, based on availability and their underlying conditions.
What Will the Vaccine Cost?
Nothing. The federal government has promised that vaccines will be free to all Americans.
According to his transition website, President-elect Joe Biden plans to facilitate “the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines—because development isn’t enough if they aren’t effectively distributed.”
A December report revealed that CDC guidelines were edited by Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway—not by scientists.
The incoming administration also promises to put scientists in charge of all decisions on safety and efficacy, to publicly release clinical data for any vaccine the FDA approves, and to authorize career staff to write a written report for public review and permit them to appear before Congress and speak publicly uncensored.
Where Can I Get the Vaccine?
Some healthcare providers are already scheduling vaccination appointments.
Click here for a list of health departments scheduling COVID vaccines, as of Jan. 12.
Do MMR Vaccines Really Protect You Against COVID?
Recent research has shown that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine may offer some protection against being infected by the coronavirus and reduce the severity of symptoms among those diagnosed with COVID-19.
While there could be a relationship between the MMR vaccine and COVID, doctors still say that there’s not enough evidence to recommend adults get booster shots. Instead, they recommend that everyone get the COVID-19 vaccine rather than relying on the possibility that the MMR vaccine offers some protection.
Have Russia and China Vaccinated Their Residents Yet?
Both countries are attempting to use their vaccines as an international bargaining chip with which to increase their economic and political standing in the world, but health experts say rushing the process poses serious risks.
The US is unlikely to rely on unproven Russian or Chinese vaccines, as those countries are primarily directing their stockpiles to countries across Africa and the Middle East.
Will the Vaccine Be Mandatory in Michigan?
The short answer is “no,” according to Michigan’s health and human services director Robert Gordon.
It is unclear whether the federal government will attempt to mandate vaccinations, though President-elect Biden says he, also, will not mandate vaccinations for all Americans.
“You can’t say, ‘Everyone has to do this,'” Biden said during an October town hall event.
The New York Times reported that President-elect Biden’s transition team is still discussing whether to try to institute a requirement, and state governments could also seek to pass vaccine mandates, though those would likely trigger legal battles.
Michigan employers also have the right to force their workers to be vaccinated, but workers can request exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs.