Update: COVID-19 vaccinations at Michigan Medicine

December 18, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources, ,

Earlier this week, Michigan Medicine received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations. It was an historic moment — but it was just the beginning of a lengthy process as the organization works to vaccinate all faculty, staff and students who want to be vaccinated. 

Employees have asked a number of questions regarding what comes next. Below are the most commonly asked questions — and the answers, as best the organization can answer them at this time.

This week’s episode of The Wrap employee podcast contains more information. It can be found via the YouTube video at the bottom of the story or media player here.

Finally, the frequently asked questions page on the Headlines website is updated regularly as more details are made available. 

 Q: Where can I access the questionnaire to sign up for a vaccine?

 A: All U-M faculty, staff and students are eligible to receive a vaccine as doses become available. In order to receive the vaccine, everyone must fill out the Blue Queue questionnaire, which asks you to identify:

  • whether you want to receive an invitation to schedule the vaccine; you can also indicate that you do not want the vaccine at this time
  • general health information needed to help with prioritization of vaccine distribution

Click here to join the Blue Queue!

Q: Are all Michigan Medicine employees considered “essential” in the Blue Queue questionnaire? What about those working remotely?

A: Yes, all Michigan Medicine employees are considered essential, even if they work at home, because they are supporting the critical infrastructure to keep our health system open and functioning. 

Q: I just filled out Blue Queue. When will I get invited to receive a vaccine?

A: At this time, we do not have enough doses of vaccine to accommodate every member of the U-M community who falls into Phase 1A. Using the responses recorded in Blue Queue, eligible faculty and staff will begin receiving an invitation to schedule an appointment as more doses become available. You will not receive an email until we have an open appointment AND enough vaccine available to administer your dose. We appreciate your patience as we work through this process. Rest assured, even if you don’t receive a notification for several weeks or even months, your information has been registered and you are currently in the organization’s queue to receive a vaccine.

Q: Why aren’t we vaccinating more people faster?

A: On Monday, Dec. 14, Michigan Medicine received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The organization planned to deliver 200 doses the first week to ensure the integrity of the pharmacy logistics and supply chain plan, validate assumptions about the capacity to safely administer while ensuring social distancing for all participants, ensure proper PPE on hand for all participants, and validating submissions to the state vaccine registry. Starting the week of Dec. 21, the organization plans to vaccinate 400-600 employees per day until all of the vaccine in the first shipment is used.

Importantly, this week, through information gathered in the Blue Queue survey, the organization was able to ensure the highest risk individuals (65 and over and/or those with high-risk medical conditions) in Phase 1A, Priority Tier 1 who indicated they want the vaccine will be able to schedule a vaccination next week. 

Federal and state agencies are determining the number of doses Michigan Medicine will receive, and timing of delivery as soon as possible. These agencies will provide a notification of delivery estimates weekly. Once this notification has been received, the COVID-19 Vaccine & Therapeutics Taskforce will begin scheduling additional appointments, which will continue to increase as additional doses are received.

Q: I have allergies that require me to get a special flu vaccine every year. Is it safe for me to get this vaccine?

A: According to the CDC, people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19. When you arrive for your vaccination, be sure to tell the medical personnel who are administering your vaccine that you may be at risk for an allergic reaction.

You should plan to stay in the immediate area for at least 15 minutes (30 minutes for anyone with a history of severe reactions) following your vaccination so the medical team can monitor you. If you have an EpiPen for your allergies, please bring it with you.

Q: Will masks still be required if you receive the vaccine?

A: Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

There is still more to learn about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.