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U.P. getting least vaccine doses in state

Courtesy photo Mark Cousineau, a Gladstone High School Industrial Arts instructor, gets a COVID-19 vaccination recently. Cousineau said he got vaccinated because “I believe it is the right thing to do to get the virus behind us. To be honest, I want to protect myself, but I also want to set an example... assure others who may be apprehensive that it is okay to get the vaccine.”

ESCANABA — Local health departments are still receiving shipments of the coronavirus vaccine, but the number of doses coming into the Upper Peninsula is significantly lower than what is being sent to other areas of the state.

As of Wednesday, 51,050 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been shipped to the U.P. since the start of vaccination back in December of last year. The majority of those doses, 34,250 shots worth, have gone to hospitals, while the next largest recipient of vaccines have been local health departments, which have received 15,800 doses. The remaining doses were sent to the Hannahville Indian Community tribal health center (500 doses), a federally qualified health center in Marquette County (400 doses), and to the Newberry Correctional Facility clinic (100 doses).

The state’s numbers put the U.P. in last place for vaccine shipments, falling more than 12,000 doses behind Region 7, which includes 19 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula and includes the Traverse City area.

However, looking at the shipment numbers doesn’t paint a full picture of the Upper Peninsula’s vaccine supply. Because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — the only two vaccines currently approved in the United States — require second doses, a significant portion of all doses received must be given to those who have already received a first dose.

The peak number of doses delivered to the U.P. were shipped Jan. 16, when 8,775 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shipped. In the following three days, a series of smaller shipments of the Moderna vaccine were sent to the U.P. in shipments of between 2,900 and 300 doses, totalling 5,800 doses.

The last round of doses was sent to the Upper Peninsula was on Jan. 24. On that day, 5,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine were sent to the U.P. No doses of the Pfizer vaccine were sent.

“Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties did receive 400 first doses of Moderna this week,” said Mike Snyder, health officer for Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties. “These doses have all been administered on Monday and Tuesday of this week.”

According to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, PHDM received 700 doses from the Jan. 24 shipment. However, those doses were split between Delta County, which received 300 doses, and Menominee County, which received 400 doses. Snyder serves as the health officer for both counties.

Snyder didn’t speculate as to why PHDM received fewer doses than in past weeks.

“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services determines how much vaccine we get each week so I cannot answer why we received only 400. Hopefully, we will receive more next week, although we will not know until Friday afternoon how much we will receive on Monday,” he said.

Each week, local health departments and hospitals across the state can make requests for doses to the MDHHS, based how many doses the healthcare providers believe they can administer in the following week. On Friday afternoon, the state informs the health departments and hospitals how much of the vaccine they will be receiving, and the shipments arrive Mondays. Healthcare providers are required to administer at least 90 percent of their allotment within seven days.

Schoolcraft County, which is part of the LMAS Health District, was also sent a shipment of the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 24. That shipment was for 300 doses, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

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