At Hillsdale Hospital, we know that there is a lot of confusion out there regarding how to get a COVID-19 vaccination, who can get one and what entities are providing them. We gathered some of these questions and are providing the best answers we have at this point in time, knowing that information is changing regularly as federal and state government agencies makes changes, adjust guidelines, etc. We hope the information below is helpful to give you a better understanding of what is going on as it relates to Hillsdale Hospital and Hillsdale County. Unfortunately we do not have known processes or timelines for where and when most individuals can get vaccinated, but we will post and share that information as soon as it becomes available to us!
Is Hillsdale Hospital administering COVID-19 vaccines?
Yes. Hillsdale Hospital received an allocation of Pfizer vaccines from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) for tier 1A individuals who are healthcare workers. Originally, the hospital was expecting to receive Moderna vaccines, which do not require an ultra-low temperature freezer, however Hillsdale College has such a freezer for its science department and offered the hospital access to it if needed to store vaccines. This allowed Hillsdale Hospital to amend its vaccine allocation request to MDHHS to include either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. As a result, Hillsdale Hospital was allocated 975 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, followed by another 975 first doses, for a total of 1,950.
Is Hillsdale Hospital ONLY vaccinating tier 1A healthcare workers?
No. Thanks to the ability to store and administer the Pfizer vaccine, Hillsdale Hospital received more doses than needed to vaccinate tier 1A healthcare workers alone. For the remaining doses, the hospital put together and shared with MDHHS a plan to utilize the remaining doses as quickly as possible, in the spirit of MDHHS’ goal for entities administering vaccines to administer 90 percent of them within seven days of receipt. This plan included offering vaccinations to long-term care facilities (also part of tier 1A) and tier 1B frontline essential workers in Hillsdale County. Long-term care residents and staff were to be vaccinated through other providers. Due to delays long-term care facilities were experiencing with those providers, Hillsdale Hospital also began providing vaccinations to long-term care residents and staff. In addition, the hospital was able to use remaining doses to begin vaccinating those in tier 1B who are frontline essential workers in certain industries or roles, including those with high exposure to members of the public or large groups of individuals. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP has made clear that tiers and phases of vaccination may overlap or be modified based on vaccine availability. Moving between tiers to ensure efficient use of available vaccinations is referred to as gating.
How do I know if I’m part of the Tier 1B groups prioritized by Hillsdale Hospital?
Hillsdale Hospital did not have enough remaining doses to vaccinate all individuals in the Tier 1B category. Based on the number of doses available, Hillsdale Hospital prioritized specific occupational groups and entities within Tier 1B who would be eligible for efficient use of the hospital’s remaining doses. Then, the hospital worked with those organizations directly to schedule vaccinations for its employees as appropriate based on their roles. If you are part of one of those groups, you would have been or will be contacted by your employer to arrange vaccination.
Is Hillsdale Hospital now vaccinating other groups, like those aged 65 and older, in accordance with the state’s new guidance?
No. Hillsdale Hospital has not been allocated additional vaccines to administer to the remaining tier 1B and tier 1C individuals, including those aged 65 and older, and does not expect to receive any further allocations of COVID-19 vaccines, other than the second doses for the 1,950 first doses already received.
If Hillsdale Hospital isn’t vaccinating those aged 65 and older, who is?
According to MDHHS’ COVID-19 vaccine website (www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine), “Michigan local health departments will schedule vaccinations” for those aged 65 and older. Local health departments are in the process of receiving and preparing to administer vaccines, but not all of them are ready to begin scheduling appointments. For the latest updates and information from the local health department in Hillsdale County (Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency), please visit www.bhsj.org.
What about my local doctor’s office or health clinic? Can I get my vaccine there?
The state has encouraged clinics and doctor’s offices to apply to become approved vaccine providers. While some have been approved, others are in the process of applying, and few, if any, have actually received vaccine yet. Due to the ultra-low temperature freezer storage required for the Pfizer vaccine, it is unlikely that doctor’s offices and clinics will be able to store and administer that vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is the viable option for these smaller locations, however all Moderna vaccine for Michigan is currently being directed to Walgreens and CVS for the purpose of vaccinating long-term care residents and staff. Additional allocations of Moderna vaccine are not expected to be delivered to other vaccine providers until the last week of January at the earliest. Therefore, the vast majority of clinics and doctor’s offices are not vaccinating at this time, but likely will be in the coming weeks and months.