PORTAGE, Mich. – The shipments of the Pfizer vaccine out of Portage set in motion the largest vaccination effort in American history.
Boxes of the vaccines were packed up and loaded onto UPS and FedEx trucks, which were escorted by U.S. Marshals past crowds of cheering spectators.
Nearly 3 million doses of the vaccine will be delivered to all 50 states.
Michigan will receive about 84,000 doses of the vaccine in the first round. They are being delivered to places that are capable of storing them at extremely low temperatures — 48 hospitals and 12 different health departments.
Michigan healthcare officials will start distributing the vaccine to frontline workers.
Ascension Hospital in Warren and five hospitals in the Henry Ford Health System will be able to store the vaccines in super cold freezers once they arrive.
Henry Ford Health System CCO Dr. Adnan Munkarah said the they will be storing the vaccines at its hospitals in Detroit, Wyandotte, Macomb, West Bloomfield and Jackson.
Beaumont Health is estimating they’ll get about 1,000 doses in the first batch before moving up to about 14,000 Pfizer vaccines as production kicks into high-gear.
Beaumont Health executive Carolyn Wilson said her team is ready to go. They have about 11,000 frontline workers who need vaccines, so a lottery system was set up and the first 1,000 workers know who they are.
“It’s a relief, quite frankly. We’re just really really excited that we can start the vaccination process. We want to start with our health care heroes,” Wilson said. “Those that have been caring for COVID patients for several months, risking themselves, their lives to serve. We’re excited to serve them now with the vaccine.”
Excitement and hope for the first time in months.
Health officials want to remind residents to continue to follow social distancing as it will take months to roll out the vaccine and they want to avoid another spike in hospitalizations.
Nearly 80% of the ICU hospital beds and 70% of all hospital beds in Michigan are full. Frontline workers are asking for all the help they can get to keep that number down.
The U.S. has reached a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic after a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for widespread use by the national Food and Drug Administration (FDA).