Michigan healths officials offered an update Friday afternoon about distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, priority groups for vaccination and efficacy and safety information currently available.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and Robert Swanson, MDHHS Division of Immunizations director, hosted Friday’s event.
UPDATE: Michigan officials: COVID vaccine to be distributed in 4 phases, prioritize frontline workers
“When Michigan first gets the vaccine, it will be available in very limited quantities MDHHS is actively preparing with hospitals and local health departments so the state can distribute and administer vaccines quickly once they become available,” reads a statement from MDHHS.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisory panel recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine needs to be granted an emergency use authorization. Michigan is developing a distribution plan once the vaccine is authorized.
Initially, five Michigan hospitals would be the first to get the vaccine, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The hospitals are Beaumont Hospital in Troy, Ascension Macomb-Oakland in Warren, University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids and MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland.
- View more: Michigan COVID-19 data
From Dr. Frank McGeorge:
Many people have questions about the two vaccines closest to approval. Keith from Macomb asks:
“Will the method used to create the vaccines alter my DNA?”
Timothy from Highland asks:
“I was told I cannot take live viruses due to immune suppressant medication. Will the benefit outweigh the risk in this case?”
These vaccines use artificially-produced genetic code that gets our bodies to produce only the spike protein that’s on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Once we produce that spike protein, our immune system reacts to it and generates antibody immunity.
Although a theoretic possibility, based on animal experiments and existing human data, there has not been any evidence that the small pieces of messenger RNA can become part of our DNA. it’s estimated that over a period of weeks the mRNA is naturally destroyed after it has been used to produce spike proteins.
What if you already had COVID?
Andy from Plymouth and several other viewers are asking similar questions:
“If you have already had a known case of COVID and recovered, should you still get the vaccine shots? Should you go to the end of the line?”
While that sounds reasonable, there are a couple of considerations:
We don’t know precisely how long-lasting or effective the immunity that someone gets from a natural infection is. For that reason, at this time the plan is to give the vaccine to people regardless of past infection.
However, there has been some discussion that in a situation where there is a limited amount of vaccine and some people know they have been infected, they might voluntarily delay their vaccination.
Should you get an antibody test to determine your ranking for the vaccine?
Another related question is if you should get an antibody test to help determine your ranking for receiving the vaccine? The idea is if you have the antibodies, then you would go to the end of the line.
This may also seem logical, but the problems are that antibody tests are not reliable enough to ensure that you have protective immunity. Moreover, practically speaking, administering the vaccine already will be a challenge. Adding one more cog in that wheel definitely would not be beneficial.