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Whitmer to prioritize nursing homes for COVID-19 booster shots

Gretchen Whitmer Michigan
FILE- In this Nov. 7, 2018, file photo, Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer hosts a post-election news conference in Detroit. Whitmer’s decisive victory was powered not just by places Democrats typically carry in a successful statewide campaign, strongholds like Detroit and suburban bellwethers such as Oakland and Macomb counties. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Whitmer to prioritize nursing homes for COVID-19 booster shots

August 26, 07:00 PM August 26, 07:01 PM

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order directing state agencies to prepare to administer COVID-19 booster shots to vaccinated residents starting Sept. 20 with a priority on long-term care facilities.

The state started administering third doses to eligible Michiganders on August 14 but will expand injections to residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and adult foster care.

“Last year, we built the largest vaccine program in our state’s history in record time to ensure that anyone who wanted a vaccine could get one,” Whitmer said in a statement. “With booster doses on the horizon, we are reactivating our close partnerships with local health departments and pharmacies to get shots in arms as quickly as possible. We know that this virus still disproportionately affects older Michiganders, which is why I’m also prioritizing booster shots for residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”

On Aug. 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, and Food and Drug Administration concluded that boost shots of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will be needed to maximize the protection against the COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be incredibly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement. “Many vaccines, not just COVID vaccines, are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and the FDA, CDC and U.S. Surgeon General have determined that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection against the virus. These booster doses are an opportunity to stay ahead of the virus and its variants, and protect Michiganders from COVID-19.”

Beginning September 20, the state will offer booster shots to residents who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at least eight months prior.

“Vaccine providers across the state are actively preparing to administer booster shots to Michiganders once ACIP makes its recommendation,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “Available data shows a decrease in protection over time and a booster dose may be needed to better fight the virus, especially as it continues to evolve into more aggressive variants. For those who have not received their first dose, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. The vaccine remains our best protection against the virus and it is the way we are going to end the pandemic together.”

Michigan expedited third doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to residents with compromised immune systems, including those with organ or stem cell transplants, the HIV infected, those undergoing active cancer treatment, or those who are taking high-dose corticosteroids.

The state says just over 20,000 Michiganders have died of COVID-19 as a sole or contributing cause. Of those, 87% were ages 60 and older.

Activists welcomed the governor’s announcement.

“We are pleased Michigan is putting an action plan in place to administer booster shots,” State Director of AARP Michigan Paula Cunningham said in a statement. “It certainly makes sense to start in long term care facilities, where the most vulnerable Michiganders reside. With the increasing impact of the Delta variant, we need to do everything we can to prioritize and protect residents in nursing homes.”

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