LANSING — The state’s health department is looking back at a year of COVID-19 vaccinations in Michigan, as Tuesday, Dec. 14 marks a year since the state began administrating shots.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said the date marks history as the state began administering the first authorized vaccine, produced by the Kalamazoo-based Pfizer, at hospitals across the state, beginning with workers in the state’s overwhelmed healthcare system.
The vaccine has protected more than 6 million Michiganders and 200 million Americans and led to the easing of restrictions and recovery of the economy.
Michigan reached the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the population over age 16 on Nov. 15. Since then, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine authorization has expanded to ages 5 and up and Michiganders over age 16 are eligible for a booster dose six months after their primary series.
However, those who are unvaccinated remain disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In the last 30 days of complete data (Oct 21 – Nov 19), 97,310 (71 percent) of 137,472 cases, 1,134 (72 percent) of 1,584 hospitalized cases and 588 (76 percent) of 772 deaths were among individuals not fully vaccinated.
Recent data has shown that three out of four COVID patients are unvaccinated (76 percent), 87 percent of COVID ICU patients are unvaccinated and 88 percent of COVID ventilator patients are unvaccinated. Further, the ongoing weight of COVID-related hospitalizations is stretching Michigan’s health care system beyond its limits.
“The strain of the unvaccinated population on our health care system is absolutely a crisis and the solution is simple: We must continue to vaccinate as many residents as we can,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive.
Support from the U.S. Department of Defense has become necessary to support the critical health care staffing crisis facing our hospitals.
MDHHS says the longer the pandemic exists and the virus spreads – primarily in the unvaccinated population – the higher the risk of virus mutations.
The COVID-19 Omicron variant is now in Michigan and preliminary information indicates that this variant is highly transmissible, posing a serious threat to Michigan’s overburdened health care system.
Residents are advised to get vaccinated, particularly before gathering for the holidays —including getting the booster dose to increase protection — and wear masks, particularly indoors and in crowded areas.
“To vaccinate more than 6 million residents in the span of one year is an incredible feat and one that brings much promise to a future beyond this pandemic,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).