To: Our staff, providers and community
From: Jeremiah J. Hodshire, President & CEO; Jeff Kauffman, Director of Pharmacy
With all the questions we have had about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as our own planning, we want to provide an update to our community, providers and staff.
The first COVID-19 vaccinations are now being approved for use and administration to boost immunity of our population and, hopefully, slow down the spread of this virus. The vaccine does not contain a live virus or carry a risk of causing COVID-19 in vaccinated patients.
Of the vaccines that will be available, or soon to be available, all will require two doses. The first dose helps the immune system recognize the virus and the second strengthens the immune system response. Both doses are needed for protection against the virus, and will be given as an initial dose and then a second dose 21-28 days later, depending on the vaccine. Vaccines cannot be interchanged. Both doses must be from the same manufacturer.
Hillsdale Hospital applied for and was approved to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccinations from all manufacturers with the exception of the Pfizer vaccination, as we did not have the required ultra-low temperature freezer or storage capability at the time of the application which was in October of this year. Pfizer’s vaccination started to ship out on December 14 and administration of that vaccine is now ongoing throughout the country. Sites that are giving the vaccinations were chosen by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) based on ability to store and administer the vaccination under stringent temperature guidelines and the ability to administer as soon as they became available. Going forward after the initial allocations of Pfizer vaccinations have been shipped out, Hillsdale Hospital may receive some allocations if supply is available as we now have access to ultra-low temperature freezer storage, thanks to Hillsdale College. The timeframe for this would be 3-6 months, based on information supplied by the CDC and MDHHS.
We are eligible to receive allocations of vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as other manufacturers, when they are approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The Moderna vaccine will be reviewed by the FDA and ACIP, with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval to use should be in effect by this weekend. Quantities of the Moderna vaccination will start arriving at the approved facilities by mid-to-late next week. Hillsdale Hospital should be in line to get this round of allocations. The US Health Department purchases the doses (most in lots of 100 million) with an option to purchase additional quantities if needed. Then the shipment to approved facilities is determined by state health departments, like MDHHS. This is based on information from the initial application to determine the allocation amount to each site, along with caseload information from MDHHS and population demographics.
The CDC and MDHHS has set up a tier system for the administration of the vaccines once delivered as follows:
- Tier 1a: Health care providers and staff and long-term care staff and patients.
- Tier 1b: All essential workers to include front line EMS, fire, police, teachers, store employees providing food and needed goods to the public, food and agriculture workers to keep the food chain intact.
- Tier 1c: Adults 65 and older and adults with severe underlying medical conditions.
- General public guidelines are still a work in progress and have changed several times. This phase will occur after the majority of Phase 1 patients have been vaccinated. A time frame estimate for this phase is being looked at, but has been suggested to be 6 months from now. Allocation supply and vaccination facilities will still be determined by MDHHS.
- General vaccination (similar to getting annual flu shots). In this phase, allocations of vaccinations will no longer be needed and vaccinating facilities will order needed supply. Local physician offices, clinics and pharmacies will be able to vaccinate at this point.
Vaccination protocols and procedures are being put into place by Hillsdale Hospital to follow the guidelines from the CDC and MDHHS to take care of our community. We will have additional information about the Moderna vaccination early next week and will start vaccinating according to the phased system from the CDC and MDHHS as soon as our allotment arrives.
Hillsdale Hospital will be establishing and staffing a vaccination clinic to administer the vaccination for Tier 1a and will be held at our hospital main campus. Tier 1b and Tier 1c will be given at our off-campus location announced prior to the clinic. Communication to the community, staff and providers will continue to be updated to keep everyone informed. For updated information regarding the tiers and phases, please visit www.hillsdalehospital.com.
The question of who should get the vaccination has come up. The recommendation is that anyone who has not had an allergic reaction from a previous vaccination, those with underlying medical conditions, anyone dealing with the public, and anyone who would normally get a flu shot should consider getting the vaccination to protect themselves as well as their family.