What you should know
On January 6, 2021, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that as a whole, Michigan is able to start vaccinating groups of people beyond the first Priority Group Phase 1A. In communities that have an adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines, local health departments and healthcare systems have been authorized to move forward with vaccination of residents age 65 and older, frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, jail and juvenile center staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers. The most important factor to a community being able to broaden vaccine offerings is dependent on vaccine availability.
At this time, our counties do not have the vaccine supply to support vaccination for all individuals in Phase 1B. Because our supply is severely limited, we are continuing to target efforts to the highest risk workers in Phase 1A until the supply picks up.
We recommend individuals working or living in Cass or Van Buren County complete the “I want a COVID Vaccine!” sign-up form on our website. Once you complete the sign-up your contact information will be added to our list and organized by priority group. As soon as there are estimated time frames or appointments available for your priority group, we will communicate with you. This is the best way to ensure you receive early notification.
To receive timely COVID-19 vaccine-specific updates, we recommend signing up on our website. While this email will provide a vaccine update, it is only delivered on Fridays.
1/8/2021 MDHHS announced new guidance for schools today to keep students, staff and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while providing the in-person instruction that is crucial to learning and development. The state’s goal is to have all Michigan school districts offer an in-person learning option for students no later than March 1, and earlier if possible. Guidance emphasizes use of scientifically proven methods of reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, including wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing and social distancing.
It is important to note that there is limited vaccine available in the state and there is a disparity between counties. Some counties may be able to vaccinate their educators sooner than other counties. No one in the state has completed phase 1A yet. Here in Van Buren we are still working hard to vaccinate all of those eligible and willing in the 1A category. We are already working with school leadership to ensure educators and school staff are able to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The FDA has authorized use of a COVID-19 vaccine; however, initial quantities are very limited in Michigan and across the nation. For that reason, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department is implementing MDHHS and CDC’s recommendations for prioritizing who will get the vaccines and in what order. With limited quantities in vaccines for the foreseeable future, this approach prioritizes the highest risk populations.
*The phased approach follows recommendations based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a federal advisory committee made up of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the United States.
When can I get the Vaccine
It is important to note that vaccination in one phase may not be complete before vaccination in another phase begins. There may be vaccination of individuals in different phases that occur simultaneously. The timing of the start of vaccination in a phase is dependent on the supply of vaccine from the manufacturer, how vaccine is allocated from the federal level to Michigan, and the capacity to administer the vaccine to populations.
Phase 1A - critical healthare infrastructure
At first, vaccine distribution will be limited and prioritized to paid and unpaid (volunteer) persons working in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents and workers in long term care facilities.
1A Priority One: Keep critical health care infrastructure open and functioning (i.e., hospitals, critical care units, and emergency medical response systems) through vaccination of staff who perform direct patient care and work in critical areas including:
- Group A: Emergency medical service providers, including medical first responders
- Group B: General medical floor
- Group C: Emergency department
- Group D: Intensive care units
1A Priority Two: Prevent outbreaks and protect residents in long-term care facilities.
- Group A: Workers who have direct contact with a large number of vulnerable residents. Note this would include staff who come in and out of the buildings.
- Skilled nursing facility staff
- Psychiatric hospital staff
- Homes for aged staff
- Adult foster care centers staff
- Assisted living facility staff
- Home health care workers caring for high risk clients with large patient loads (e.g. people with a tracheostomy/ventilator at home)
- Group B: Vulnerable residents in long-term care facilities.
- Skilled nursing facility residents
- Psychiatric hospital patients
- Homes for aged residents
- Adult foster care centers residents
- Assisted living facility residents
1A Priority Three: Keep necessary health care infrastructure functioning.
- Group A: Workers with direct patient contact who conduct high risk procedures (e.g., dentists, endoscopy, dialysis).
- Group B: Vaccinate other workers who have direct patient contact, including outpatient, urgent care, ambulatory care, and home health care.
- Group C: Vaccinate workers who have indirect patient contact with specialized skills critical to health care system functioning (e.g. hospital and public health laboratories, pharmacy).
Phase 1B - frontline essential workers and individuals 65 years of age and older
Once Phase 1A groups are vaccinated, the State plan will prioritize frontline essential workers who keep critical infrastructure open and functioning as well as individuals age 65 years of age and older. This includes:
- Frontline essential workers: First Responders (Firefighters, Police), Manufacturing, Corrections workers, Grocery store workers
- Individuals 65 years of age and older
- K-12 school and child care staff with direct contact with children
- Some workers in 16 sectors of Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, including Chemical; Communications; Dams; Emergency Services; Financial Services; Government Facilities; Information Technology; Transportation Systems; Energy; Food and Agriculture; Healthcare and Public Health; Nuclear Reactors, Materials and Waste; and Water and Wastewater Systems
- Staff in homeless shelters, corrections facilities (prisons, jails, juvenile justice facilities), congregate child care institutions, and adult and child protective services
- Workers with unique skill sets not covered above, such as non-hospital laboratories and mortuary services.
Phase 1C - populations at high risk
The next group to receive vaccines will be populations at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection.
- Group A: Individuals age 65-74 years
- Group B: Individuals 16-64 years with COPD, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, obesity or other conditions that put them at high risk of negative COVID-19 outcome.
- Other essential workers: Food Service, Shelter & Housing (construction), Media, Legal, Public safety (Engineers)
NOTE: These prioritizations may change as further guidance from the CDC or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccines become available.
Phase 2 - all individuals 18 years or older
In 2021, the vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially. Current models suggest that all individuals 18 years or older who do not fall within the initial priority groups should qualify for the vaccine by mid-2021.
The vaccines themselves are free to all. A small charge may be assessed to health insurance providers by the agency administering the vaccine, but there will not be any out-of-pocket cost for the vaccine.
More information will be available soon on how and where vaccines are being administered
Is the vaccine safe and effective for my family and me?
U.S. Food & Drug Administration
How Do mRNA Vaccines Work?
Every virus is different. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2 and the vaccine developed to prevent it is an mRNA vaccine.
Vaccine Safety & Effectiveness
We are confident that both vaccines* approved for use in the U.S. are highly safe and effective. Both were developed in the United States and have undergone U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scrutiny, the most rigorous vaccine approval process on the planet. They were found to be over 94% effective in adults, and only 2-10% of clinical trial participants experienced mild to moderate side effects attributable to a normal, healthy immune response.
*Pfizer vaccine approved by the FDA on December 12, 2020. Moderna vaccine slated for FDA approval the week of December 14.
Vaccine Development & Approval Process
Each COVID-19 vaccine moved through a three-phase development process, including human clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people. Upon the completion of the clinical trials, the drug sponsors applied to the FDA to market and distribute the vaccine.
Prior to issuing guidance on each vaccine, the data and evidence was reviewed by an external panel of independent experts who provided a recommendation to the FDA to authorize the vaccine. The FDA ultimately determined that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, product quality, and consistency had been clearly demonstrated, so the vaccines were approved. While the three-phase clinical trial process has historically taken an average of three years or more, the FDA allowed for the acceleration of the development timeline and permitted some trials to overlap rather than run sequentially.
But federal oversight does not end once the vaccines are approved. Local healthcare workers will be among the first to get the vaccine and they will be using an after-vaccine health checker to provide additional data to a national database. Anyone who gets the vaccine may also use the vaccine reporting system – VAERS – to report undocumented side effects. This system is already used with other vaccines and immediately alerts health authorities to any possible issues.
Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Possible Side Efffects
Based on published data, there are mild to moderate side effects associated with the leading COVID-19 vaccines. These short-term symptoms can include:
- Headache, and
- Joint and muscle pain
However, only 2-10% of people who took part in the clinical trials experienced side effects. None were severe or required hospitalization.
Side effects from vaccines are not uncommon. The seasonal flu shot, for example, can cause fever and fatigue, among other symptoms.
The COVID-19 vaccines, in particular, are designed to teach your body how to recognize and fight the coronavirus. Therefore, mild to moderate side effects are the result of a normal, healthy immune system responding to the vaccine.
Side effects do not mean you have contracted COVID-19. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Remember, mild to moderate symptoms are a sign that the body is building immunity.
watch the CDC video:
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to learn more about the COVID-19 side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Will the COVID-19 vaccine be free? Will it be administered through Van Buren and Cass County? How will you notify when the vaccine is available? Will you let us know which company it will be from?
VBCDHD is currently working on a robust plan to distribute the vaccine, as well as how to communicate the plan to the community. VBCDHD, hospitals, local federally qualified health centers, and pharmacies will be administering the vaccine.
Cost will not be an obstacle to anyone receiving the vaccine. The vaccine, itself, will be given to Americans at no cost. Vaccine providers will be able to charge a fee to administer the shot, but this fee should be covered by public or private insurance, or by a government relief fund for the uninsured.
Anyone can receive updates from VBCDHD by signing up. [link to a sign up comng soon]
How is the vaccine administered?
The two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require two doses, either 21 or 28 days apart. It is important to get both doses to ensure the highest level of efficacy.
Can the vaccine give me a COVID-19 infection?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. The goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. This means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
Will I have a positive COVID-19 test after getting the vaccine?
No. Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
Do I still need to wear a mask even after I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccines 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. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before changing recommendations on steps people need to take that slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine together with following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
For more information, visit considerations for wearing masks.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine help me even if I've already been infected with COVID-19?
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they had COVID-19 before.
At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity to COVID-19 may not last very long. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
Can children and pregnant women be vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccine trials for children are just beginning. Pfizer expanded its vaccine testing to children ages 12 and older in late October; however, Moderna has not yet set a date when it will begin testing its product in children. It remains unclear when a vaccine will be approved for children under 16 but the goal is to have one ready before the 2021 school year.
What can I expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker - use your smartphone to tell CDC about any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You'll also get reminders if you need a second vaccine dose. CLICK HERE to learn more.
COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard
.png screenshot visual with quick access. Learn more about how many doses have been administered, from which vaccine type and provider type, how many have been shipped and more.
Link to dashboard: Coronavirus - COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard