Michigan's medical director lays out plan for vaccine distribution in the state

Michigan's medical director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun gave more details Tuesday during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 press conference about how vaccine distribution is expected to go in Michigan once the green light is given. 

Right now, two COVID-19 vaccines - Pfizer's and Moderna's - are in the clinical trial stage. The FDA and CDC are also reviewing their data and will make a final determination soon whether or not to authorize use. Dr. Khaldun said health experts are expecting a vaccine decision by mid-December. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Khaldun laid out the timeline and plan for vaccine distribution in Michigan once the approval is given allotments are sent out. 


How and where the vaccines will be distributed depends on which one gets approval, as they require different specifics for storage. 

For example, only 48 hospitals and 12 health departments across Michigan would be capable of storing and administering the Pfizer vaccine. Dr. Khaldun says that's because the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stores at a temperature of -70C.

However, if the Moderna vaccine is approved, more than 100 hospitals and health departments across the state coule store and administer that vaccine because the ultra-cold storage temperatures aren't necessary. 

Dr. Khaldun said the state is working with all of the sites to ensure they have what's necessary to begin storing and administering the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. 

Regardless of which one is authorized, both require two doses to provide immunity. Dr. Khaldun said the doses will be separated by several weeks. 

"Initial data shows that both of these vaccines are about 95% effective and it will be important we can vaccinate as many people as possible," Dr. Khaldun said. 


When Michigan does get the vaccine, it will only be available in very limited quantities at first. Dr. Khaldun said the state is also still waiting on word from the CDC of exactly how many doses Michigan will receive in the first allocation. 

"Because there will be such a limited amount in the beginning, our first priority will be to keep our healthcare systems operating and to protect those who are the most vulnerable," Dr. Khaldun said. 

Right now, that means the state is prioritizing vaccinating the following frontline healthcare workers first: 

  • ICU workers
  • Hospital medical floor workers
  • EMS workers
  • Those in emergency departments 

In the second allotment, which Dr. Khaldun hopes to be in January, the following will then be prioritized: 

  • Care facility workers
  • Residents of skilled nursing facilities

"All of this is dependent on how quickly additional vaccines become available from the manufacturer," Dr. Khaldun reminded. 


"Per CDC recommendations - and, again, depending on the supply of vaccine - we will continue to expand to other types of critical healthcare workers. That includes essential workers, which includes educators, also those who are at the highest risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, and then eventually to the general public.

"We hope to be able to have vaccines available to the general public by late spring." 

You can read more about Pfizer's vaccine here, and Moderna's vaccine here