COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Michigan nursing homes

Vaccines signal sign of hope for high risk residents

COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Michigan nursing homes
COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Michigan nursing homes

RIVERVIEW, Mich. – On Monday, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation as the first nursing home patients in Michigan began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

“It was exciting. It was enthralling. I can’t even express my feelings over what a joy it was to get vaccinated today,” said Sujata Chaddha of the Rivergate Terrace Care Center in Riverview.

Nearly 140 patients and some of the staff at Rivergate Terrace Care Center were among the first to get their shots.

Rivergate Terrace Care Center will also get another round of the vaccine on Jan. 4.

“It is a hope that everybody was hanging onto. Everybody was very anxiously waiting for it to begin,” said Chaddha.

Nursing homes and long term care facilities were some of the hardest hit places by COVID-19.

At the Rivergate Terrace Care Center, 20 patients died from the virus back in April.

Long term care centers accounted for more than 35,000 of Michigan’s cases and 4,400 deaths during the pandemic.

Michigan health officials have set a goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16. That’s about 5.6 million people, by the end of 2021, according to the state.

“There are about 91,000 people including residents and staff at nursing facilities, and it is expected to take about three weeks to complete vaccinations. Additional eligible facilities will soon begin receiving vaccinations including assisted living, personal care homes, residential care, adult family home, adult foster home, HUD supportive housing for the elderly and veterans’ homes,” read a statement released by the State of Michigan on Monday.

The vaccines mean those high risk residents will finally get some protection.

“Oh my God, the patients and the families are so excited about it. It is probably and hopefully the beginning to the end of the pandemic,” said Chaddha.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 480,508 as of Monday, including 12,089 deaths, state officials report.

Monday’s update includes 3,239 new cases and 60 additional deaths over the past two days.

“This is a great day for older Michiganders, their families and the dedicated men and women who care for them. We know this virus is a killer that preys on our most vulnerable populations, which is why my administration has prioritized testing in our nursing homes from the beginning. Now, we have developed a plan that will help us distribute a safe and effective vaccine to our nursing home residents and staff,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Remember: it will take some time for the vaccine to be widely distributed to everyone. That’s why it’s so important that we all do our part by continuing to properly mask up, practice safe social distancing and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will get through this together.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health also commented on the nursing home vaccinations.

“We know the residents of these facilities are at high-risk for severe illness and death from the virus, and early vaccination of both residents and those caring for them is critical to help protect this population. We are pleased that more than 5,000 long-term care facilities – including more than 400 skilled nursing facilities – have been enrolled in the program in Michigan to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said Khaldun.

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About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.