COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Sparrow, McLaren hospitals in Lansing

Craig Lyons

| Lansing State Journal


LANSING – The McLaren Greater Lansing Dawn Chapel hospital nurse isn’t used to having spectators when she gets the shots, but Thursday was an occasion that drew a crowd.

Chapel and four other McLaren staff members were the first in Ingham County to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“People are thrilled,” he said. “This pandemic could diminish and this is what we were hoping for.”

The vaccine arrived Thursday at Sparrow Hospital, McLaren Greater Lansing and the Ingham County Health Department. The doses are the first received by health professionals in Greater Lansing.

Lansing’s two hospital systems began vaccinating staff almost immediately once the packages arrived in the morning.

“It looks like the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sparrow Pharmacy Director Todd Belding. The vaccines arrived in Ingham County five days after the first trucks left Pfizer’s Portage facility on Sunday in a historic attempt to spread the vaccines to all 50 states. Michigan’s initial vaccine assignment went to larger hospitals in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.

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In Sparrow, the delivery was met with clamor as packages were transported from the loading dock to the pharmacy department. A crowd of hospital and media personnel huddled around the boxes as Belding removed layers of dry ice before moving the vaccine doses to a freezer set at 73 degrees Celsius.

Sparrow’s pharmacist Liz Potter watched the unpacking as she followed the instructions on how to handle vaccines.

“It’s like a sigh of relief,” Potter said.

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Sparrow received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and inoculated the first six members of his team Thursday afternoon, Belding said. Another 500 Sparrow employees will be vaccinated on Friday, he said.

McLaren vaccinated five staff members on Thursday.

McLaren Greater Lansing chief medical officer Dr. Linda Peterson was on a morning call when she received news that the vaccine has arrived at the hospital. Cheers of joy rang out during the call, he said.

“This is a sense of hope,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the hospital received 500 doses on Thursday. That’s enough to vaccinate 245 hospital staff as of Friday and another 250 working off-site, he said.

McLaren has long planned for the vaccine to arrive and wanted to quickly prepare it for distribution. she said.

“We were ready to run as soon as we got the vaccine,” Peterson said.

Ingham County Health Department received 975 doses of the vaccine, spokeswoman Amanda Darche said. These doses will go to the health department’s vaccination staff and emergency medical service workers, he said.

From Monday, 26.325 doses of the vaccine were distributed in Michigan, according to the most recent data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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Of the 297 sites enrolled to administer the vaccine, four are located in Ingham County, three in Eaton County, and two in Clinton County, according to the state. MDHHS has not listed who these suppliers are.

“This is a big win for us,” Sparrow nurse Abigail Wheeler said. “We want this pandemic to end.”

‘Everyone is waiting for this’

Since the start of the pandemic, 18,503 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 263 have died from COVID-19 in Greater Lansing, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Across the state, 450,776 people tested positive and 11,208 died from it.

For healthcare professionals, the arrival of the vaccine is a sign of hope.

“We have been waiting for this day,” said Dr. C. Anil Kumar, director of the medical intensive care unit at McLaren Greater Lansing.

Many people with the coronavirus who enter ICU struggle to survive, Kumar said. It has been difficult for the patients, their families and health care professionals, he said.

The vaccine’s arrival was eagerly awaited, he said.

“There is a pandemic, everyone is waiting for this,” Kumar said.

Sparrow’s nurse Damali Beard said that although she doesn’t like needles, she isn’t afraid of the vaccine. He said the first vaccinations are a step towards the end of the pandemic.

“I’m glad we have this,” he said. “Hopefully it will take a breakthrough so we can get back to normal.”

How will the vaccine be distributed?

The state has set up steps for who gets vaccinated first:

  • Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid people who work in health care facilities who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and residents in long-term care facilities.
  • Phase 1B: Workers in some essential and critical sectors.
  • Stage 1C: People aged 16 and over at high risk of serious illness and people aged 65 and over.
  • Stage 2C: All individuals over the age of 16.

More: ‘Rising Rapidly’: How Michigan Plans to Deploy Coronavirus Vaccine, Fight COVID-19

“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine is an important step towards reducing the toll the virus is taking in our state,” MDHHS chief medical officer and deputy chief of health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement. Wednesday print. “As we receive further guidance from our federal partners, these priorities may change. As we roll out these vaccines statewide, it is important that everyone continues to do their part in fighting this pandemic by wearing masks, washing their hands and avoiding meetings. “

MDHHS predicts that widespread public vaccination will begin in the spring of 2021 once a broad offering is available.

Contact reporter Craig Lyons at 517-377-1047 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @craigalyons.