Michigan Medicine: Limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine forces pause of first dose appointments

Health system acknowledges that slow vaccine rollout has been ‘incredibly frustrating’

Signs guide individuals to Michigan Medicine's COVID Vaccine Clinic at the Jack Roth Stadium Club at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 31, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – In an email sent to patients on Wednesday, Michigan Medicine announced that it will not be administering additional first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations this week due to low supply.

“On behalf of all the physicians and staff at Michigan Medicine, thank you for your patience,” read the letter. “We know the slower than anticipated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been incredibly frustrating.”

The health system said it will only receive enough vaccine to provide second doses this week to those who have already received their first dose at Michigan Medicine clinics.

“While we have the ability to vaccinate up to 12,000 people per week – with room to quickly expand that to 24,000 per week – we simply do not currently have vaccine supply to put our powerful infrastructure to work for you,” read the letter.

The letter pointed to a low national supply of the vaccine that has slowed vaccination efforts in several states, and expressed hope that new strategies introduced by the federal government will speed up vaccine production in the meantime.

The state of Michigan is currently prioritizing sending the majority of its vaccine supply to local health departments, with about 40% going to hospitals around the state, officials said.

“For the past several weeks, hospitals statewide have received significantly less supply than what has been requested,” read the letter. “In the coming weeks, it is expected that there may be further reductions in the amount of vaccine supply sent to hospitals.”

As more vaccines make their way to health departments and retail pharmacies, Michigan Medicine is encouraging its patients who are age 65 and older or are eligible under phases 1A or 1B to receive the vaccine to seek out other venues to get vaccinated, if possible.

Those who have already received an invitation to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at Michigan Medicine and were unable to find an available time slot are encouraged to check back weekly to see if any new appointments for the first dose become available.

Michigan Medicine patients do not need to take action to receive a vaccine through the health system. Established patients are already in the system and will receive invitations to get the vaccine once supply becomes available.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.