DCH, DIDHD request patience following news of COVID-19 vaccine supply chain shortages

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) – According to officials at the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department (DIDHD) and Dickinson County Healthcare (DCH), our region is waiting for more COVID-19 vaccine to arrive.

After initial small numbers of vaccine doses were received, distributed, and administered, the flow of new COVID-19 vaccine shipments has slowed.

“A plentiful supply is simply not here right now,” says Daren Deyaert, Director of the DIDHD. “We have a great distribution system in place to quickly and confidently allocate vaccines once they arrive to many local service organizations who administer the doses. But at this time, we are in the same position as the rest of the country. We are all waiting for the supply chain of vaccines managed by our Federal and State Governments to be replenished.”

According to Joe Rizzo, DCH Director of Public Relations, “We share the frustration of our community and medical providers everywhere during this vaccine shortage. While DCH waits for a replenished supply of vaccines to distribute, we ask our community to be patient. State and Federal officials are promising that the vaccines will ultimately come, but in the meantime, we need to band together as a community to stay vigilant with masking and social distancing practices. The more we protect each other, the more we can reduce COVID-19 transmissions until overall community vaccinations reach a higher level.”

As the regional Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Site, DCH distributes specific quantities of doses of the vaccine as instructed by the State of Michigan and the local health department (DIDHD). DCH’s role is to dispense exact amounts of the vaccine to multiple service organizations who administer the vaccine to individuals. DCH plays no role in determining vaccine allocation numbers and only distributes as instructed.

Rizzo adds, “We are in the same position as every other service organization that administers doses of the vaccine they receive. If we don’t have any doses to give, we are at a stand-still.”

The State of Michigan and the DIDHD are following the CDC Social Vulnerability Index (CDC SVI) to adjust allocations of the vaccine to ensure that communities at most risk receive vaccine during times of scarcity. The CDC SVI was used in establishing testing sites for COVID-19. The CDC SVI combines 15 U.S. Census variables into a tool that helps local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, or after disasters. The CDC SVI is made up of indicators of socioeconomic status; household composition and disability; minority status and languages spoken; and housing type and transportation. The CDC SVI status in Michigan communities correlates with the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 this spring, as well as areas of the state with high rates of risk factors for severe COVID-19 outcomes.

As a health care provider, DCH receives only a portion of total county doses received to actually administer. Following guidelines from the CDC and DIDHD, doses allocated to DCH in early January were immediately given to health care workers and a small number of high-risk patients above 65 years old.

When additional allocations of new vaccine shipments are received by DCH, the rollout plan to vaccinate patients will quickly commence and be administered based on eligibility requirements established by the CDC SVI.

DCH patients are asked to please contact their Primary Care Providers to make appointments for receiving the vaccine or if they have questions about eligibility.

ABOUT DICKINSON COUNTY HEALTHCARE: Servicing Northern Wisconsin and the Central Upper Peninsula for more than 68 years, Dickinson County Healthcare (DCH) is a 49 bed Community Hospital with a team of more than 60 active physicians and each year treats over 160,000 patients. DCH employs more than 650 staff members, is one of the major employers in the Dickinson County area and is a large contributor to the economic wellbeing of our community.

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