It’s been a good week! First, the FDA approved Pfizer’s emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine and second, the vaccinations outside of clinical trials began in the U.S. on Monday. The images of the truck rolling out of Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan and their employees packaging the vaccine shipments, was a sight to behold — along with witnessing frontline workers getting the first of two doses. We should all take in this moment in time and appreciate this great step forward in our fight to stop the spread of the virus and protect our residents.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is a great reason for increased optimism, we still have a ways to go in our journey toward wide distribution among the general public.
According to the State of Michigan, the vaccine will be distributed through a phased approach, with an emphasis on both ensuring the continuing functioning of the health-care system and essential services in the community and protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Those phases are:
- Phase 1A, which includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health-care settings who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.
- Phase 1B, which includes some workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique skill sets, such as non-hospital or non-public health laboratories and mortuary services.
- Phase 1C, which includes people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older.
- Phase 2, a mass vaccination campaign for all adults
The order of priority may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccination products become available. To stay abreast of the most recent information, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.
As we move forward along this continuum, employers have an important role to play and much to think about. Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun suggests that employers start thinking about the logistics of the vaccine. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses – three to four weeks apart. So, it’s encouraged that employers determine if they are going to require their employees to get the vaccine and, if so, how will they make sure employees get the second dose. Dr. Khaldun also cautions employers about the potential side effects, which she says is common and means that the vaccine is working. So, how will your business prepare for this as you roll out among your teams?
On the other hand, some employers may choose to not require their employees to be vaccinated but strongly encourage them to do so providing educational information and potentially, vaccine clinics, as many of us do for the annual flu shot. These are just a few things we need to think about.
In the meantime, until the vast majority of people have been vaccinated, we must remain vigilant about wearing our masks and practicing social distance.
Also, we must do everything that we can to help small businesses during the current partial shutdown. In addition to the available grant programs, there are many ways to support small businesses on an individual level. For example, you could take online classes, keep your memberships going, order takeout or delivery from area restaurants or purchase gift cards. For those who may be cash-strapped during this time, you could use your social media feeds to bring awareness to your favorite businesses.
Remember… we’re all in this together and the only way to get through it will be together!
All the Best,