Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Health departments provide timeline for COVID vaccinations


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As the process of vaccinating locals against COVID-19 continues, regional health departments are providing additional information on the rollout of the vaccines and when it is expected to become available to various groups of residents.

“WUPHD expects vaccine administration to roll out over a series of months and is working with area hospitals, physicians and outpatient clinics to distribute available vaccines according to a phased approach that has been adopted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” a Western Upper Peninsula Health Department spokesperson said in a news release. “The phased vaccination approach allows for continued functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community, while protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19  illness. These prioritizations may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccine products become available.”

The area is currently vaccinating those people who fall in the Phase 1A category, which includes those in critical health care roles, long-term care staff and residents, and other necessary health care workers.

The transition to Phase 1B — which includes those over the age of 75 and essential frontline workers who keep infrastructure functioning — is expected to begin in mid-January, according to the WUPHD spokesperson.

In mid-February, a transition to Phase 1C is expected, which is when those at severe risk of the illness — such as those over the age of 65 or have high-risk medical conditions — and other essential workers are expected to begin receiving their vaccinations.

Everyone else over the age of 16 is expected to begin receiving the vaccination sometime around the end of March or early April, according to the information from the WUPHD.

The Iron County Health Department has laid out similar prioritized groups in the deployment of the vaccine in Wisconsin, with vaccines expected to become available to the general public in the spring or summer.

Gogebic County has had 711 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 295 additional probable cases and 38 deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to Saturday’s update of data on the state of Michigan’s coronavirus website. Ontonagon County has had 278 confirmed cases, 29 additional probables and 16 deaths through Saturday, according to state data.

In Wisconsin, data on that state’s COVID-19 website shows Iron County has had 423 confirmed cases, 109 additional probable cases and 35 deaths through Sunday.

Although there is no out-of-pocket cost for the vaccine, according to the WUPHD spokesperson, some health care providers may bill insurance for administrative costs.

They also reminded residents that both vaccines currently approved to prevent COVID-19 require two doses to be considered fully vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine requires the doses be received 21 days apart, while the Moderna vaccine calls for a separation of 28 days.

Health officials in both states stress that the vaccine is just one part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and people need to continue to wash their hands, wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

“Together, these tools offer the best chance of getting our communities, schools, and work sites  back to normal. WUPHD reminds residents to continue using prevention strategies as vaccines become  more widely available and for some time after,” the WUPHD spokesperson said.

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