Disclaimer: MI E-Benefits is not the author of this article. But we do have the copyright approval to post Blue Cross Blue Shield material. You can read the original article here.
Editor’s note: This post was first published Jan. 22, 2021 and was last updated 4 p.m. Feb. 4, 2021, with information from state and federal health officials.
Doses of the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered Dec. 14, 2020, kicking off a massive effort during 2021 to stop the spread of the virus.
Michigan health officials aim to vaccinate 90% of Michigan residents 16 years of age or older — at least 7.2 million people — by the end of 2021. Until everyone can receive a vaccine, health experts are urging everyone to follow the same COVID-19 precautions: wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and limit gatherings outside of your household.
There are currently two vaccines – Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech – that have received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are being distributed across the country. They both require two doses to be effective. The vaccines are being distributed in phases that differ by state.
Here’s what you need to know about vaccination efforts in the state of Michigan.
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Health officials in Michigan are distributing vaccines in a phased approach per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Health care workers and people in long-term care facilities – including staff – were the first to be vaccinated in Michigan, and those efforts are ongoing.
As of Jan. 11, 2021, Michigan announced that additional groups are eligible to receive the vaccine. However, demand for the vaccine during January has been much greater than the supply. Vaccine appointments are being scheduled as shipments of the vaccine become more plentiful.
These prioritizations may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccination products become available. The federal government recognizes that it is not necessary to fully complete vaccination in one phase before moving on to next phase. There may be vaccination of individuals in different phases that occurs simultaneously.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is working with local health departments and the Michigan National Guard to distribute the vaccine. Due to limited supplies of the vaccine, they are available on an appointment-only basis through the health departments.
Hospitals and health systems are working to distribute vaccines to patients, and some commercial pharmacies are engaged on a limited basis in the initial effort. In the future, primary care providers will also be providing vaccines as the supply allows.
The week of Feb. 8, retail pharmacies across the country will begin receiving shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. Initial federal retail pharmacy partners in Michigan include Meijer, Rite Aid, LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health’s PSAOs.
These pharmacies will offer vaccines under the same vaccination schedule followed by health departments and hospitals, in accordance with state and federal vaccination guidelines and dependent upon the shipment of vaccine supply. In the future, most retail pharmacies including Spartan Nash stores will offer COVID-19 vaccines.
Each state is distributing vaccines in a different way. If you live outside of Michigan and are seeking a COVID-19 vaccine, click here to see how to get a vaccine in your state.
After receiving a vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask in public and when in contact with those outside your household.
Yes. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two doses to be fully effective. The second dose of each vaccine is identical to the first dose of the same brand. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot, according to the CDC.
In most situations, the vaccination site will schedule you for your second dose when you receive your first dose. Your second shot must be of the same vaccine brand as the first shot
These side effects mean your immune system is responding by producing an immune response and is completely normal. If your side effects do not go away after a few days, call your doctor. Call 911 and seek immediate medical care if you think you’re having a severe allergic reaction.
At this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend taking acetaminophen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol or Advil prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccines to prevent any vaccination symptoms. Patients who take these medications as a part of their current treatment plans should consult their primary care providers first before making any changes.
The CDC has developed a smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check in with people after they have received a COVID-19 vaccine to track side effects. Learn more about v-safe here.
Before these vaccines were authorized for emergency use, they were subjected to clinical trials with thousands of study participants to evaluate safety and effectiveness. Pfizer’s vaccine was shown to be 95% effective against COVID-19, while the FDA reports the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective.
No. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines use messenger RNA – called mRNA – to teach your cells how to make a protein that triggers the immune response. As your body learns how to protect against a future infection of COVID-19, your body may react with side effects – which means the vaccine is working. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, where your DNA is kept.
Experts say yes. It’s unclear how long immunity from COVID-19 lasts if you’ve had an infection, so health experts are advising that those who have been infected with COVID-19 should still plan to get the vaccine. It is always a good idea to discuss such decisions with your doctor.
Although the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna were developed more quickly than other vaccines, the FDA announced they followed all established protocols for vaccine development and testing and met the FDA’s standards for emergency use authorization. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, scientists had a head start thanks to vaccine research already started during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
“The process for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is scientifically sound, and no steps have been skipped, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.
You should not have to pay anything to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There are two primary costs – the cost of the vaccine, and the cost of administering it to patients like you. The federal government will be paying for the initial cost of the vaccine. Most employer health plans and Blue Cross are required to pick up the cost of administering the shots, thereby relieving members of any out-of-pocket cost.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network will waive all copays, deductibles and coinsurance for COVID-19 vaccines for commercial members.
For Medicare beneficiaries, the government is paying for the vaccine and administration of the vaccine.
This content has been reviewed and approved by Dr. S. George Kipa, deputy chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Photo credit: Geber86
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