Gov. Whitmer says ‘additional guidance’ ahead amid Michigan’s COVID surge

The Detroit News
Nov. 22, 2021
Craig Mauger

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she expects her health department to release “additional guidance” directed at the state’s ongoing COVID-19 surge in the near future.

During her first public appearance in Michigan in more than a week, Whitmer said an unidentified hospital leader she spoke with Monday was “not encouraging mandates” but was urging public education about vaccinations.

The number of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state hit a seven-month high at 3,699 Monday, and last week, the percentage of tests for the virus bringing positive results reached the highest weekly rate in more than a year. Michigan continues to lead the nation in new cases per population.

“If you’re congregating with a bunch of people indoors, it’s wise to make sure everyone is vaccinated,” Whitmer said. “And if they’re not, encourage them to do that.

“Take this opportunity to tell your loved ones how much you love them and how much you want to spend Christmas with them. It’s time to get vaccinated.”

The governor said she anticipates the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will release more guidance as the state gets closer to the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving is Thursday.

On Friday, Whitmer’s health department issued a public health advisory, recommending people wear masks at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. The recommendation also encouraged establishments to implement policies to ensure that all people entering, including employees, wear masks.

Michigan’s COVID-19 metrics have rapidly deteriorated over the last three weeks. On Monday, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association released a statement, describing the situation as “alarming.”

The state is approaching “the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan since the pandemic began,” according to the statement, made on behalf of chief medical officers of Michigan’s community hospitals.

“We cannot wait any longer for Michigan to correct course; we need your help now to end this surge and ensure our hospitals can care for everyone who needs it,” the medical officers added.

Last year, during a similar surge, Whitmer’s administration used its executive powers to suspend in-person high school and college classes, and halt indoor dining at restaurants through health department epidemic orders.

This month, however, Whitmer and her health department have relied on recommendations and public calls for vaccinations. Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, has also declined to impose a statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools.

“A year ago, we did not have access to vaccines,” Whitmer said Monday. “We do now. They are easy to get. They are incredibly effective, and they are free of charge.”

The governor said she’s “imploring” school districts and parents to ensure their children are wearing masks.

Whitmer took questions from reporters Monday afternoon after a press conference announcing 100 new jobs and a $1 million expansion of Crest Marine in Owosso Township.

Last week, she was in Arizona and California as Michigan became the top state in the country for new COVID-19 cases per population. In California, she met with the Semiconductor Industry Association Board of Directors to discuss ongoing efforts to increase domestic chip production and attend the association’s annual event.

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As FDA OK nears, Whitmer urges residents to get COVID-19 boosters

The Detroit News 
Nov. 17, 2021
Beth LeBlanc

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday encouraged all vaccinated Michigan residents to plan to get their boosters as soon as federal regulators lift the remaining limitations on eligibility.

Limitations remain on booster eligibility for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but those are expected to be lifted at the federal level this week, Whitmer said in a statement. She urged people to make an appointment for a booster as those restrictions are lifted.

“I am proud of the progress we have made on boosters, with over 1 million administered to date,” said Whitmer, who received her booster Nov. 5. “We need to build on that momentum and ensure that everyone who is fully vaccinated gets a booster too.”

Whitmer did not comment directly in the statement on Michigan’s rising case and hospitalization numbers, but her Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said the department continues “to closely monitor the data.”

“We are concerned about rising cases and hospitalizations and have to keep working together to administer more vaccines and boosters at a rapid pace,” Bagdasarian said in a statement.

“After nearly two years of facing COVID-19, we have more tools to keep people safe and help those in the hospital recover, but the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated and get your booster.”

Michigan leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases per population over the last seven days.

The state Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday added data pushing Michigan’s overall totals since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to 1,224,273 confirmed cases and 23,104 deaths.

This week marked one year since Whitmer announced a “pause to save lives” that ushered in several restrictions limiting gatherings in colleges, high schools and restaurants. That week — between Nov. 15 and 21, 2020 — Michigan hit a weekly record of 50,892 cases. The total so far this week has been 35,595.

Whitmer added at the end of her Wednesday statement that she’d met with public health officials Tuesday night. She said the priority remains to keep people safe “by encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and those who are eligible to get their booster.”

She encouraged people who are vaccinated to plan for a booster shot and flu shot as well as to wear a mask in large indoor settings and to test after symptoms, exposure or travel.

For people who are unvaccinated, Whitmer recommended getting the vaccine and flu shot, wearing a mask for all indoor gatherings, and testing regularly, especially after symptoms, exposure or travel.

Whitmer encouraged parents to vaccinate children older than 5 and for long-term care facilities to hold on-site booster clinics for residents and staff.

She touted Michigan’s vaccination rate of 70% of people over the age 16 who had received at least one dose as well as the state’s administration of 1.1 million boosters to date.

Federal guidance regards all people over 18 and vaccinated with a Johnson & Johnson shot as eligible for a booster at least two months after their initial vaccination.

But boosters for those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are limited to people over the age of 65 or those over 18 who have underlying conditions or are living in a long-term care setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends individuals wait at least six months after completing their Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to get a booster.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to expand eligibility for Pfizer later this week and CDC approval could come soon after. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to meet Friday to discuss expansions for booster eligibility.

Some states have leapfrogged FDA eligibility approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by lifting the restrictions themselves. Among those lifting the restrictions early are California, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia and Colorado, according to the Associated Press.

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Beaumont doctor: ‘Metro Detroit is again becoming a hotspot’ for COVID-19

Detroit Free Press
Nov 11, 2021
Kristen Jordan Shamus

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 rose 20% in Michigan in the last week, to 2,621, alarming hospital leaders who say the state is now mired in its fourth coronavirus surge.

While many other parts of the country are seeing declines in cases and hospitalizations, those pandemic indicators are climbing in Michigan.

“Metro Detroit is again becoming a hot spot,” said Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s director of infection prevention and epidemiology during a Thursday news conference.

The state’s seven-day coronavirus case rate now ranks ninth highest nationally, at 344.5 per 100,000 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of positive tests has surpassed 14% statewide.

“I am very concerned about the trajectory of this new wave,” Gilpin said.

Across Beaumont’s eight hospitals Thursday, there were 397 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Gilpin said. That’s still lower than the peaks seen in April and November 2020, but it’s rising fast.

“This is our early-warning system,” he said. “We’re seeing community numbers increase. And I think with more cold weather on the way, with people starting to make plans for the holidays to get together, I think it’s an important time just to let everyone know that we’ve got to stay vigilant.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re wearing those masks. We’ve got to make sure we’re taking those precautions. We’ve got to get ourselves vaccinated. Those are the things fundamentally that are going to really improve the situation.”

The majority of patients hospitalized with the virus at Beaumont are unvaccinated, Gilpin said. Most people who develop vaccine breakthrough infections don’t need hospitalization. Those who do, Gilpin said, are people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the virus.

Other hospital systems in Michigan are feeling the stress, too.

Traverse City-based Munson Healthcare announced Tuesday that it has now exceeded capacity at its nine northern Michigan hospitals for the first time in its 106-year history, and is operating at “Pandemic Response Level Red.”

COVID-19 Hospitalizations climb in Michigan

The number of patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen about 20% in the last week in Michigan.

That means that physician’s offices, labs, outpatient clinics and hospitals will remain open, but non-urgent surgeries and other procedures may have to be delayed, especially if they require an overnight hospital stay, said Munson spokesperson Dianne Michalek.

“The number of patients we are seeing in our hospitals right now are close to those we experienced during the worst of the pandemic last spring,” Christine Nefcy, Munson’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.

“Now, more than ever, we need our communities to band together with us by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, practicing proper hand hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings whenever possible.”

In recent weeks, Henry Ford has typically had about 150 coronavirus patients filling hospital beds. By Monday, the COVID-19 census had jumped to 250 patients.

“The case rate, which is how many new infections there are per 100,000 people, it’s going up across the entire state, especially in southeast Michigan,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection prevention for Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System. “So I do expect the numbers will continue to get worse for a bit.”

At least eight other hospitals were listed by a state health department database as being at 100% capacity Wednesday:

  • Beaumont Hospital Wayne
  • Bronson South Haven
  • Detroit Receiving Hospital
  • St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital
  • Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital
  • Sparrow Eaton Hospital
  • ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital
  • ProMedica CV Hickman Hospital

Nearly two dozen others are operating at 90%-99% capacity, and include:

  • Ascension St. John Hospital
  • Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Beaumont Hospital – Troy
  • Beaumont Hospital Trenton
  • Covenant Healthcare
  • Henry Ford Macomb Hospital
  • Hurley Medical Center
  • McLaren – Macomb
  • McLaren Flint
  • McLaren Greater Lansing
  • McLaren Port Huron Hospital
  • OSF St. Francis Hospital
  • Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital
  • Promedica Monroe Regional Hospital
  • Sheridan Community Hospital
  • Sparrow Hospital
  • Spectrum Health – Blodgett Hospital
  • Spectrum Health – Butterworth Hospital
  • Spectrum Health – Pennock Hospital
  • St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea
  • St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
  • University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers

Gilpin said the Beaumont system is still open and available to treat both COVID and non-COVID patients, but the strain on staff is very real.

“We’re all very much tired of this, and taking care of sick COVID patients is incredibly labor-intensive,” he said, “But we mask up and we gown up and we do our job.

“I don’t think you’ll find any health care system in the state of Michigan and certainly not in metro Detroit that’s not dealing with staffing challenges. We do the best we can. We’re very nimble.  … But it is difficult and especially as we look ahead to the prospect of a fourth surge that could last another three or four months or take us through the winter.

“This is going to be a tough one. … This one … is shaping up to be a little bit more of a marathon than a sprint.”

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Detroit-Windsor Tunnel reopens for vaccinated travelers

Crain’s Detroit Business
Nov. 8, 2021

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel fully reopens today to vaccinated travelers after being closed to the general public since March 21, 2020, just after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The reopening comes as the U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel to and from countries including Canada, Mexico and most of Europe.

New rules require those crossing a land border from Canada or Mexico to have proof of vaccination. Those traveling by air from a series of countries from which it has been restricted since the early days of the pandemic must have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.

The Canadian border opened to nonessential travel in August as long entry requirements were met.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the U.S., but the travel bans grounded tourists, thwarted business travelers and often separated families.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel will remain cashless on the Detroit side of the border for vehicles traveling to Canada. The Canadian side of the border will continue to accept cash tolls through the end of the year, at which point cash will no longer be accepted as a form of payment.

Transit Windsor’s tunnel bus service currently remains suspended.

Before the pandemic, the tunnel served 12,000 daily customers and 4 million annually. Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is operated by Detroit-based American Roads through a lease with the city of Detroit that began in 1998 and runs through 2040.

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What the Federal Vaccine or Testing Requirement Means for Michigan Businesses

On Nov. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor released emergency rules from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that will officially go into effect Jan. 4, 2022. As of that deadline, employees at companies of 100 or more must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for the virus weekly. These rules will impact more than 80 million workers at medium and large businesses. OSHA regulations will force employers to require that unvaccinated workers test negative for COVID-19 at least once per week and mask up in the workplace.

As of Nov. 6, however, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay on these rules, seeking response from the government by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8. The court did not specify if this would have a nationwide effect or simply apply to the states within its jurisdiction.

In the meantime, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) offered additional guidance for businesses in Michigan. Highlights include:

Implementation

There are two compliance periods.

  • Companies must have their plan finalized by Dec. 5, according to the OSHA rule.
  • Companies must have written documentation of all who are vaccinated or put protocols in place for a weekly testing program by Jan. 4.

Employers have two program choices to follow.

  1. Employers can implement a vaccine mandate program with required exemptions.
  2. Employers can have a program that recognizes those that are vaccinated but implement a testing protocol for everyone else.

Employers have to maintain a record of vaccination status and tests. Records will need to be kept for six months.

Fines for businesses that do not comply will be $7,000 from MIOSHA and OSHA can fine the organization up to $13,600 per violation, per day, per employee.

Conditions

According to the Labor Department, “new rules preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.”

The 100-employee count applies to all employees at a company, including part-time and seasonal employees. Note, once a company reaches 100 employees, they will always be considered a 100-employee company even if layoffs take the count below 100. The rules also apply to any organization with more than 100 workers, even if they have multiple locations where fewer than 100 workers are present at that location.

The rules do not apply to employees who exclusively work from home, work outdoors exclusively, or work in an environment where no other employees or customers are present. While the rules do not apply to employees who exclusively work from home, they do apply to those working from home temporarily.

OSHA will host an extensive FAQ on its website. Highlights include:

  • Employers will not have to pay for tests.
  • Employees cannot self-monitor or self-report. Another party must be present to observe.
  • Employers are required to provide four hours of paid leave (in addition to existing paid leave allocations) for getting vaccinated and paid time off for those that have adverse reactions to the vaccine.
  • Vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks in the workplace. Masks are required for unvaccinated workers beginning on Dec. 5.

Metro Detroit health departments begin offering Moderna, J&J COVID-19 booster shots

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 26, 2021
Christina Hall

The city of Detroit and its neighboring suburban health departments have begun giving Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shots.

The city said it began offering the boosters Tuesday, in addition to Pfizer boosters, at all city-run vaccination sites, including 10 walk-in centers and home visits.

Oakland County Health Division also began administering booster doses of Moderna and J&J vaccines at sites in Pontiac and Holly, with more clinics scheduled throughout the week in Rochester, Pontiac and Southfield. Pfizer booster doses also will be available.

The Washtenaw County Health Department, too, began offering Moderna and J&J boosters starting Tuesday at its October drive-through and ongoing walk-in clinics at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti.

The Wayne County Health Department also is offering free booster doses, with no appointment necessary, at all of its county-sponsored vaccine sites. The Macomb County Health Department is giving them, too, in addition to the Pfizer booster, with walk-ins welcome but appointments preferred.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved boosters for those who received the second dose of the two-shot regime of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at least six months ago who are age 65 and older or age 18 and older who live in long-term care settings or have underlying medical conditions or who work or live in high-risk settings, including health care workers, first responders, teachers, manufacturing and other occupations.

The CDC also recommended boosters for those age 18 and older who received the one-dose J&J vaccine at least two months ago.

Residents can choose which booster they want to receive — either the same vaccine as before or a different one, as the CDC approved mix-and-match for booster doses. The Moderna booster is half the dose of the primary series vaccine.

A third full dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine also is available for all immunocompromised city residents as long as it is 28 days after their initial two-dose series.

“We have ample supplies of vaccines, and that includes booster doses for everyone who is now eligible to receive them,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a release. “Vaccines remain the best tool we have available for protection from COVID-19. I am encouraging all Detroiters to get their booster dose now, before the holidays. And, if you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so now.”

Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair Razo agreed.

“We know Detroiters are planning their celebrations with family and friends, and that is why we encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster to plan now to receive their booster dose so that everyone will stay healthy and safe. The time is now to get the shot,” she said.

“It is also flu season, so I am encouraging everyone to get their annual flu vaccine as well. This is important to keep everyone safe and protected through the coming months of cold weather.”

Though walk-ins are welcome, appointments are encouraged for all Detroit vaccination sites by calling 313-230-0505 or scheduling online at vaccinatedetroit.com. Bring your vaccination card to your appointment.

Appointments also are strongly recommended, but not required, in Oakland County. Go to OaklandCountyVaccine.com. Those without the internet can call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Oakland County clinics this week are:

  • Drive-through clinic from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Rochester Fire Department, 277 E. 2nd St., Rochester.
  • Drive-through clinic from 1-4 p.m. Thursday at the county government campus, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Pontiac, in the parking lot between the North Office Building (26 East) and the medical examiner’s office (28 East).
  • Indoor clinic from 2-6 p.m. Thursday at the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road, in Southfield.
  • Indoor clinic from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday at the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road, Southfield.

At Wayne County Health Department sites, walk-ins are welcome, but those who want to make an appointment can call 866-610-3885. For more information, go to waynecounty.com/covid19/vaccination.aspx.

To schedule an appointment in Macomb County, call 586-463-3750 and press 1. Online scheduling should be available later this week at macombgov.org/vaccinecentral.

Initial doses of all three vaccines as well as Pfizer boosters also are available at the Washtenaw County Health Department clinics. No appointments are required. For more information, go to washtenaw.org/3269/COVID-19-Vaccination.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters: When, Where, And How To Get Them In Michigan

Bridge Michigan
Oct. 18, 2021
Robin Erb

The federal government is poised to sign off on vaccine boosters made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson as early as this week, paving the way for greater protection against COVID for hundreds of thousands more people in Michigan.

The anticipated approval of the boosters — following approval of the Pfizer booster last month — is sure to spawn questions about who is eligible, how to get one, whether they can be mixed and other key questions, which are answered below.

Late last week, the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended that anyone who received a one-dose J & J vaccine at least two months ago get a booster shot. The same panel recommended half-dose boosters for those who received Moderna vaccines earlier this year.

With three different U.S.-approved vaccine manufacturers, there are limits in who gets what, differing waiting periods, and adjustments in dose amounts.

“I get a lot of questions,” Tiffany Haddad-Azzi, a regional pharmacy manager for 22 Rite Aid stores stretching along Michigan’s I-94 corridor, said of the difference in boosters.

“What we do know about COVID vaccines is that they are working,” Haddad-Azzi said. “We do know that they’re helping (reduce) the amount of deaths and hospitalizations from COVID.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis published in September found all three vaccines strong in preventing hospitalizations, although Moderna’s had the most robust response. The Moderna vaccine was shown to be 93 percent effective against hospitalizations from March 11 to August 15 compared to the Pfizer vaccine (88 percent) and the J & J vaccine (71 percent).

“But as far as how often we have to get it and how long antibodies last from the shots — we just have to keep studying it,” Haddad-Azzi said.

Here are answers to some common questions about the boosters:

When Is The Moderna Booster Coming?

Roughly 3.9 million Michigan residents have received the two-dose Moderna vaccine, according to state data.

The FDA and the CDC still must weigh in on the panel’s recommendations before the Moderna vaccine booster is approved. The FDA usually follows panel recommendations on COVID vaccines quickly. An advisory committee to the CDC is scheduled to meet Oct. 20-21.

The Moderna vaccine, like the one from Pfizer, is an mRNA vaccine and, like Pfizer, is given in a two-dose series after being authorized earlier this year.

Immunocompromised people who received the Moderna vaccine were approved for a third dose back in August. More than 32,000 Moderna third doses have been administered to this higher-risk population so far in Michigan, according to state data.

If the FDA and CDC follow the advice of the FDA’s advisory board Thursday, Moderna booster recipients will receive a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine as a booster.

If the panel’s recommendation is followed, Moderna boosters would be given, at least at first, to the same group of people now recommended for the Pfizer booster — those 65 and older and at higher risk for COVID.

When Will The J & J Booster Be Available?

More than 355,000 Michigan residents have received the single-dose J & J vaccine.

The FDA and CDC still must approve a J &J booster. The FDA has generally followed the panel’s recommendations on COVID vaccines quickly. An advisory committee to the CDC is scheduled to meet Oct. 20-21.

Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, which are two-dose mRNA vaccines, Johnson & Johnson produced a one-dose viral vector vaccine similar to many traditional vaccines.

The J & J booster has been recommended for anyone who had an initial J & J dose, with no need to restrict them initially to higher-risk groups.

Who Can Now Get The Pfizer Booster?

The Pfizer vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, is a two-dose mRNA vaccine similar to Moderna’s version. Also similar: The Pfizer vaccine was recommended in August as a third dose for immunocompromised patients so they mount the same immune response as the general public. (Conditions are listed at this link here.)

Third doses were to be given at least 28 days after the first two-dose series was completed.

In September, the FDA authorized Pfizer boosters for a limited number of other people who got the Pfizer vaccine — specifically those 65 and older, those at higher risk of severe COVID, and those in certain occupations.

The boosters are to be given six months after a first series and boost immune responses that wane over time.

More than 325,000 Pfizer third doses and boosters have been given out in Michigan, according to state data.

“All of those doses — the third dose for immunocompromised people or the booster for other Pfizer recipients — are the same exact shot. There’s nothing that codes them differently, like Dose 1 or Dose 2 or Dose 3. They are the same,” Haddad-Azzi said.

Still unclear is whether those who are immunocompromised and received three doses will be eventually recommended for boosters.

Can I Mix Vaccines?

For now, no. For the most part, individuals are to stick to the same vaccine they first received, although in rare instances, individuals in the early days of the vaccine rollout may have had two different vaccines.)

It’s unclear to what extent the guidance to stick to one vaccine type will hold — an uncertainty underscored last week when an early study suggested that people who originally received the J & J vaccine might be better protected if they received a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

The results from the study of 458 people are preliminary and must be peer reviewed.

How Do I Get A Booster Once I’m Eligible?

Vaccines now are widely available at large pharmacy chains, physician’s offices and health departments. It’s not necessary to return to the same site as your first doses.

Do The Boosters Carry Side Effects?

In clinical trials, the most commonly reported side effects among clinical trial participants getting the Pfizer and Moderna boosters were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and chills. J & J  has reported similarly common side effects in its first vaccines, but has not submitted large data sets addressing side effects in a booster.

Can I Get A COVID Booster And Flu Shot At The Same Time?

Yes, according to the CDC.

This is the season when millions of Americans traditionally get their annual flu shot. Ask your pharmacy if you can get scheduled for both.

While COVID shots initially were to be spaced apart from other vaccines, the CDC changed its guidance about the timing, and now allows flu and COVID vaccines to be given at the same time. By federal law, the COVID shot is free, although pharmacists may bill insurers when available.

Most insurers cover flu shots, too, but there are exceptions, pharmacist Hadded-Azzi said.

Do I Need My Vaccination Card When I Get A Booster?

Vaccine providers can access an individual’s COVID vaccine record through the Michigan Care Improvement Registry if the vaccine was administered in Michigan. Copies of vaccine records also can be requested through the MCIR public portal.

Nonetheless, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends residents take their vaccine card with them when seeking additional shots or boosters to avoid confusion.

Those who received vaccines out of state should bring their out-of-state COVID vaccine record and request that the provider add the out-of-state record to MCIR, said MDHHS spokesperson Chelsea Wuth.

What About Vaccines For Children?

Currently, anyone 12 and older is eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. For now, the Pfizer booster — the only booster yet approved — is limited to adults 65 and older and people in high-risk groups.

The same FDA panel making recommendations about boosters is set to take up Pfizer’s request to authorize vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old at its meeting Oct. 26. The CDC’s Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices, which determines who will be eligible for vaccines and when, is scheduled to meet Nov. 2.

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Oakland County: CDC Says Residents May Get COVID-19 And Flu Vaccines At The Same Time

Oakland County Health Division reminds residents that COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be given at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Health Division is administering both vaccines at its indoor community clinics.

“Getting both the flu and COVID vaccine is vital to reducing the risk of serious illness or death from either virus during this flu season, which is why we are offering both at our indoor community clinics,” Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said. “A number of residents who attended our recent clinics were unaware that the CDC updated its guidance enabling people to get both vaccines at the same time.”

Upcoming indoor community clinics will include the Karl Richter Community Center in Holly, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 876 in Madison Heights, Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Welcome Missionary Baptist Church and Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, and Southfield Pavilion in Southfield.

Appointments are strongly encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. Click on OaklandCountyVaccine.com for addresses, times, and to schedule an appointment. Those who do not have access to the Internet may call the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. for more information. Individuals who schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointment at an indoor clinic will be asked to indicate whether they would like to receive the flu vaccineResidents may also request it at the time they show up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at an Oakland County indoor clinic.

Oakland County Health Division continues to be focused on limiting the transmission of COVID-19 by immunizing residents who remain unvaccinated. Upcoming drive-through vaccine clinics for COVID-19 will be in Novi, Pontiac, and West BloomfieldThe flu vaccine is unavailable at the drive-through clinics.

About 283,000 eligible Oakland County residents remain unvaccinated, at least 46,000 of whom are ages 12-19 years old. New cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, especially among unvaccinated residents. Of the more than 4,800 new confirmed and probable cases in Oakland County from Sept. 27-Oct. 10, residents 39 years old or younger accounted for 54.8 percent of the new cases.

The following is an update on progress vaccinating Oakland County residents, according to the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard as of Oct. 12, 2021:

Total eligible residents 12 and older: 1,091,389

  • Number of residents 12 and older who have received first dose: 808,353
  • Number of residents 12 years and older who have completed vaccination: 752,749
  • Vaccine coverage for residents 12 and older: 71 percent

Total eligible residents 16 and older: 1,029,737

  • Number of residents 16 and older who have received first dose: 773,318
  • Number of residents 16 and older who have completed vaccination: 720,720
  • Vaccine coverage for residents 16 and older: 75.1 percent

Total eligible senior residents 65 and older: 217,676

  • Number of senior residents who have received first dose: 192,557
  • Number of senior residents who have completed vaccination: 182,175
  • Vaccine coverage for senior residents: 88.5 percent

Total doses distributed within Oakland County: 1,664,985

Total primary doses administered within Oakland County: 1,502,506

Total third and booster doses administered in Region 2 North (Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair counties): 82,850  

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Getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 11, 2021
Lucienne Zenieh, M.D.

Last year, we had a very mild flu season. Experts think this was because of strict social distancing and masking guidelines. All of these protocols we had in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 really reduced the spread of the flu. But because of this, we weren’t exposed to the flu last year, so it’s likely that we now have reduced immunity against it. That’s why an early and severe flu season has been predicted.

Getting the flu vaccine (and the COVID-19 vaccine) is the best way to protect yourself this fall. Those who are unvaccinated are at risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19 and the flu. If you contract them at the same time, or even around the same time, it could take a huge toll on your health.

Both the flu and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses, which means they both affect the lungs. Getting both of these infections is dangerous because it could overwhelm your lungs and your whole immune system. Symptoms could be severe, and probably leading to hospitalization and death.

Protecting kids from viral infections this fall

 Along with the flu, cases of RSV—a viral infection that affects kids; especially small children and babies—were minimal last year, thanks to masking and social distancing. But this year, cases of RSV began to rise in August, instead of the usual fall to spring season.

RSV came early this year because most of the population didn’t get exposed to it last year, so now we’re seeing an early surge. And COVID-19’s Delta variant is affecting kids more than the original strain of COVID-19, so now kids (especially kids younger than 12 who can’t yet receive the COVID-19 vaccine) are facing the flu, COVID-19 and RSV. These are three respiratory viruses that can overwhelm the lungs and immune system, and kids are going to school in person, getting more exposure. It’s a high-risk situation. Protecting them with the flu vaccine is so important.

What to know before getting the flu vaccine

No vaccine is 100% effective, but even if you do get the flu, the vaccine will prevent you from having severe symptoms. You might have symptoms like congestion or even a fever, but it will lower your risk for getting severe symptoms and serious complications.

Here, a few tips to getting the flu vaccine:

  • Get your flu vaccine as soon as you can—before the end of October — so that you’ll be covered for the duration of the flu season.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get the flu vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine. You won’t have worsened side effects, there won’t be any interaction between the two vaccines, and it won’t affect your immune protection.
  • Do you have an egg allergy? According to the CDC, if your egg allergy is mild, you can still get the flu vaccine. (The flu vaccine contains a small amount of egg protein.) You can also ask your doctor about receiving Flucelvax, an alternative flu vaccine that does not contain egg. Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations for those with egg allergies here.

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Grants available to help small businesses with workplace safety

Crain’s Detroit Business
Oct. 7, 2021
Jay Davis

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is offering small businesses funds to help improve workplace safety and health.

Companies with 250 employees or fewer can apply for a matching grant of up to $5,000. A total of $250,000 is available, according to a Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity news release.

The funds are available through the Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) grant program. They help employers buy health- and safety-related equipment and offer related training that will reduce the risk of injury and illness to Michigan workers, the release states.

Employers in high-hazard industries identified in MIOSHA’s 2019-23 strategic plan will be given priority. The grant period will continue until all funding is exhausted. Business owners applying for the first time are eligible to apply now, while those who have already received funds this year can apply after Jan. 1.

MIOSHA so far this year through two previous rounds of funding has provided $592,681 in MIWISH grants, with a grantee match of $788,320, the release states.

For more details, visit michigan.gov/mioshagrants

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