COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

COVID-19 Update - 5/4/21

Drive-thru clinics were an essential part of our vaccination strategy during the winter months to protect our most vulnerable and elderly residents. Holding clinics in nearly every corner of the county -- including our most socially vulnerable neighborhoods --  was another important decision to maximize accessibility and equity.

But every good strategy has pivot points. So, we're pivoting. We have temporarily leased the old Sears Department Store in Fashion Square Mall for May and June (and beyond if needed) to provide residents with a convenient, centralized vaccination location near the restaurant and retail corridor in Saginaw County.

Our shift to a safe, spacious temporary indoor site is based on:

  • Vaccine demand peaking the week of April 11, now slowly declining and reducing the necessity for our team to hold daily clinics at a different location each day
  • Weather warming up and younger, more mobile residents seeking vaccination
  • Demand for walk-in flexibility and evening hours 

This week, we will be releasing a "county-wide COVID-19 vaccination clinic schedule" containing every Saginaw County provider's vaccine locations and times. You will see the health department's second-dose clinics at many of the locations we've used for first-dose clinics. But, in addition, we will be at the Sears Department Store building every Tuesday, 9am-4pm, and every Wednesday 3:30-6:30pm May 11-June 30.

We will continue to work hard to reach neighborhoods where communications, technology, trust, and access remain obstacles, working with our churches as neighborhood focal points. 

In another new development, Covenant is now offering the COVID-19 vaccine seven days a week at their MedExpress locations and in some physician offices by appointment. 

COVID-19 Update - 4/30/21

We are well aware that the governor's new "Vacc to Normal" milestones are causing concern about the attainability of the plan's goals.

Here at the Saginaw County Health Department, we have been aiming for that 70% goal all along, believing in the importance of establishing herd immunity to best safeguard Saginaw. But we empathize and understand the concerns about attainability and the frustration that businesses, in particular, are feeling about restrictions imposed by the state that are now tied to vaccine goals.

We hope it offers some encouragement to share that the health department is spearheading a county-wide vaccine confidence campaign set to launch very soon. The health department, hospitals, and other vaccine providers are coming out with a unified message delivered with one voice to address the concerns of various audiences about the COVID-19 vaccine. This effort is made possible by a generous grant from the Saginaw Community Foundation for which we are deeply grateful.

A diverse range of familiar Saginaw faces will be sharing testimonials about why they chose to be vaccinated. With these testimonials, in addition to widespread education and information about the benefits of vaccination, we hope to change minds and hearts of those you are hesitant to be vaccinated.  

We are already doing everything we can to make the COVID-19 vaccine as accessible and available as possible to residents throughout the county. And we will continue!

COVID-19 Update - 4/27/21

Nearly 40% of Saginaw County residents 16 years of age or older are enjoying the benefits of vaccination. You should too! 

Remember, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine .

These new recommendations from the CDC apply to non-healthcare settings. 

Fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings.
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible.

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in indoor public settings like wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • Wear masks that fit snuggly when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-10 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
  • Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid indoor large-sized in-person gatherings.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.

COVID-19 Update - 4/23/21

If you or anyone you live or work with in Saginaw County is interested and still seeking a convenient, flexible way to get vaccinated, we are offering the following walk-in clinics next week. 

For those who prefer registering and making an appointment, that is still available at mySaginawHealth.org.

Or, if you have someone in your life who is still on the fence about vaccination, we think the benefits are significant and are including a handy graphic (both this graphic and the graphic above are available on our Facebook page if you'd like to share them).

COVID-19 Update - 4/20/21

Are Vaccination Efforts Really Working?

This graph from our regional epidemiologist says YES.

Though the tangle of lines can be confusing, look at the red and burgundy lines. They represent our older population. Solid lines are cases per million. Dashed lines are vaccine coverage. As vaccination rates went up among our older residents, the number of cases in those age ranges came down.

Now look at the gray and blue lines. These represent our 20-40 year olds. Their vaccine coverage rates are lowest while cases are now highest.

Now that everyone 16 and older is eligible to receive a vaccine, and doses are plentiful with lots of opportunities for appointments and walk-ins or drive-thrus...we hope our 16-40 year-olds continue to roll up their sleeves.

COVID-19 Update - 4/15/21

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met yesterday to review the six reported cases of a rare severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. Saying it doesn't have enough information yet to vote on continuing or discontinuing the vaccine, the committee will meet again in another week or two to revisit the issue.

This pause does NOT impact our local vaccination effort. We are able to pivot to Pfizer or Moderna for clinics previously planned for Johnson & Johnson.

People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Based on a pause recommended by the CDC and FDA this morning, we pivoted quickly to change today's Johnson & Johnson drive-thru clinic at Sears Automotive to Pfizer. We will be doing the same with our walk-in clinic planned for Saturday, April 17 at Mt. Olive. In both cases, we are now welcoming anyone 16 and older who lives or works in Saginaw County for a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

For clarification, here is why we made the change. 

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the United States. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases.

Until that process is complete, the CDC and FDA are recommending a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare (6 out of 6.8 million), so we encourage anyone who has already received the J&J vaccine to remain calm and confident. To help relieve any fears, we will be addressing this tomorrow, April 14, at our weekly 10am FB Live event.

COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government as well as the Saginaw County Health Department, and all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination are taken very seriously.

People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.

CDC and FDA provided additional information and answered questions earlier today at a media briefing. A recording of that media call is available on the FDA’s YouTube channel.

COVID-19 Update - 4/9/21

Saginaw County Passes 100,000th Dose Milestone!

The magic number as of today is 104,332! We cannot thank our hospitals, pharmacies, and federally qualified health center enough for helping us reach out to our community with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some may ask if the vaccine is really working, given our current spike in cases. The answer is YES! The vaccine is working. We know that because the number of positive cases among our 65+ population (of which more than 70% are vaccinated) has dropped dramatically along with cases and deaths in long-term care facilities (which were among the first to be vaccinated).

Our hospitals are telling us that those being hospitalized for COVID-19 are mostly younger, unvaccinated individuals in their 30s and 40s.

This underscores the need for our preventive strategies and vaccine efforts to continue and even build. We do NOT want to be the one state in the country with the highest number of new cases...and we definitely don't want to be the source of a new "Michigan" variant. 

Stay vigilant, Saginaw!

COVID-19 Update - 4/5/21

Today marks the first day we are inviting those registered with us for the COVID-19 vaccine to “self-schedule” their own appointment date and time.
 
We released more than 2,000 invitations to fill 1,500 appointment slots for clinics this week via email (for those who provided one) or text message (for those who did not provide an email but can accept text messages on their cell phone).

Up until now, we have been using a phone bank of staff and volunteers to individually call each person registered – which was particularly important with seniors, some of whom were not comfortable using technology. We will continue phoning only for those who have neither an email address nor cell phone and have indicated that on their registration.

We are grateful for help from the Saginaw County Commission on Aging throughout the early registration process. Moving forward with younger registrants, we ask that folks stop calling the SCCOA and instead call (989) 771-1010 with questions or for assistance registering.
 
Four factors have led up to today’s launch of the web-based app at mySaginawHealth.org: 

  • Vaccine doses are more plentiful and clinics can be planned out further in advance.
  • Registrants are younger – anyone 16 and older may now register (however minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the time of vaccination).
  • The online tool, built here in Saginaw for the health department, has been in development and is now finished – and will also include a self-reporting and contact tracing element for positive COVID-19 cases.
  • Phone banks are time and resource limiting. 

We are really excited to offer this level of scheduling to residents for health department clinics.

We carefully watched and listened to other local health departments that tried out commercial scheduling software and found it to be less than helpful. Fortunately, we were already working on a self-reporting/contacting tracing tool with a local developer and had them shift gears to help us with vaccine appointment self scheduling.
 
Vaccination scheduling still won’t happen all at once. We are releasing notifications in batches to make sure we aren’t driving too many people to too few appointment times. Starting now, we encourage anyone who has registered with us to check their email often and remain patient.
 
Beginning today, anyone 16 and older may register for the vaccine at mySaginawHealth.org. In doing so, registrants will be providing name, date of birth, address, email, phone, race, and ethnicity. If applicable, registrants can indicate if they are a critical infrastructure worker, have an underlying health condition, or are the caregiver of a special needs child – which are high priority vaccine groups we will continue to monitor and prioritize.
 
Upon registering, everyone receives a confirmation email.
 
When it’s a registrant’s time to schedule their appointment, they will receive an email or text containing a personal link and instructions for using it to schedule their appointment. This link should not be shared with others, as anyone using it will alter the intended recipient’s appointment. 
 
For two-dose vaccines, clinics will be offered in pairs – one date for first dose and a second date for second dose. When scheduling, registrants are encouraged to only select “pairs” that work for them. There is no option to mix dates although there is flexibility in appointment times. 

COVID-19 Update - 3/30/21

The health department has received lots of inquiries about when and where we are administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Our allocations of the one-dose vaccine have gone thus far to drive-thru clinics in out-county areas such as Frankenmuth and Chesaning, and to the drive-thru clinics at Sears Automotive. In April, additional doses are going to vaccinate critical infrastructure businesses including Nexteer and to our homebound population.

When our new self-scheduling tool launches later this week, the health department will release batches of invitations to blocks of those registered with us so they can select from available clinic dates and locations, including clinics for Johnson & Johnson when available.

Vaccination efforts continue to move along extremely well, with more than a quarter of our residents receiving at least one dose. Saginaw County vaccine providers delivered 9,355 doses last week alone -- 2,802 of which were administered by the health department team.

Next week, on April 5, eligibility will open to anyone 16+. It's important to note that minors under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to their vaccination appointments.

COVID-19 Update - 3/12/21

We are prepared to respond to accelerated vaccine eligibility as announced by President Joe Biden last night and as announced just today by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The health department’s new registration process at www.mySaginawHealth.org will enhance efforts greatly, as individuals will soon be able to schedule their own appointments.

We will continue to focus on current priority groups over the next three weeks and will open up eligibility and registration for everyone 16 and older on April 5 per the state’s new priority guidance.

Remember, “eligibility” is independent of “availability.” The health department will continue to work with our vaccine partners to move as quickly as possible to get whatever doses we receive into arms.

The health department is already doing mass drive-thru clinics as featured in President Biden’s speech last night, and will continue to do so as feasible.

As a reminder, if you are 65 years of age or older and have not yet been vaccinated or scheduled for vaccination, you may call our call center at 989-771-1010 to schedule your appointment with us now.

COVID-19 Update - 3/4/21

Today, Ascension St. Mary’s, Covenant HealthCare, Meijer/SVSU, and Saginaw County Health Department are all holding vaccination clinics that, when completed, will put the county’s “doses administered” total over the 50,000 mark.

The 50,000th dose administered is a milestone worth celebrating, says Chris Harrington, MPH, health officer, Saginaw County Health Department. “We are doing a fantastic job getting the limited doses we receive into the arms of those prioritized to receive them.” It’s an effort that includes great partners like hospitals and pharmacies, Harrington notes.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Covenant team has been at the frontlines of caring for the medical needs of the community. It is extraordinary and meaningful for all of us that one year later we are working together to end the spread of COVID-19 with the vaccine,” says Ed Bruff, President/CEO, Covenant HealthCare.

Dr. Stephanie Duggan, Regional President, Ascension Michigan Northern Ministries, adds, “Ascension St. Mary's is proud of the partnership we have with the Saginaw County Health Department, other area healthcare organizations and the community, to be able to spread hope through vaccination and enable people to begin to return to a bit of normality.”

Harrington notes that vaccine confidence remains high in Saginaw County, with demand far exceeding supply. “We are seeing promising signs,” she notes. Weekly dose allocations are increasing, and all vaccine providers trying to schedule with seniors are encountering many who state they no longer need appointments because they have already been vaccinated.

“The remaining number of adults 65+ who want the vaccine might not be as large as our registration lists indicate,” Harrington believes. “But we still have our work cut out for us,” she adds, indicating that the state’s announcement yesterday opening eligibility to adults 50+ potentially adds another 40,000 people to the demand side of the equation.

COVID-19 Update - 2/12/21

Nearly 1,000 of our community’s most vulnerable citizens received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at our drive-thru mass vaccination clinic on Thursday at The Dow. Cars pulled right onto the arena floor and drove around to one of 24 vaccination stations manned by health department nurses, National Guard medics, and CMU medical students. There, vehicle occupants — primarily 80 years of age and older — rolled up their sleeves and breathed a sigh of relief at getting their long-awaited shots. 
In scheduling the event, we quickly learned that transportation (many don’t drive any longer) and safety (walking on slippery winter surfaces and standing in line) are barriers for vaccinating this population. So, if drivers over the age of 65 brought someone 80+, we vaccinated them too — all in the warmth and safety of their vehicle.

Events of this magnitude and logistical complexity take great partnerships. As we look forward to doing more of these clinics as doses allow, we must thank:

The Dow Event Center staff
Ascension St. Mary’s
CMU Medical School
CMU Health
Michigan National Guard
Saginaw County Emergency Manager Lt. Mark Przybylski 
Denron Inc
Saginaw Police Department
Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office
Saginaw County Road Commission
Saginaw City Streets Department
Molina Health Care of Michigan (for donating lunch to feed vaccination teams) 

Those who have called for the event should NOT be alarmed or concerned. No one who wants a vaccine will be left behind. Large clinics like this will allow the health department to get through this group more quickly and fairly and will occur more often now as doses allow.
 
Other Saginaw County Health Department neighborhood-based clinic locations will be offered throughout the county in an effort to bring the vaccine closer to those receiving it. All are planned as indoor drive-thru events for the safety and convenience of the senior population.

COVID-19 Update - 2/8/21

As an integral part of our vaccine roll-out plan, we are launching the first of several “neighborhood-based” mass vaccination clinics this week on Thursday, Feb 11, 9am-4pm at The Dow in downtown Saginaw.

The event is a drive-thru clinic for Saginaw County adults 80 years of age and older. Since logistics require closure of Washington/M13 near the Dow to enable drivers to enter the west side of the building and drive onto the arena floor, this clinic will be “by appointment only” to manage traffic flow. Members of the Michigan National Guard will check cars upon arrival to ensure people have an appointment for the event. Once on the arena floor, cars will drive to one of 24 vaccination stations manned by health department nurses and staff, CMU Medical School students and faculty, and Michigan National Guard medics and soldiers.

Those scheduled for the clinic will hear from the health department this week for their appointment time. 

Those who have registered and do NOT get a call for this event should NOT be alarmed or concerned. No one who wants a vaccine will be left behind. Large clinics like this will allow the health department to get through this group more quickly and fairly and will occur more often now as doses allow.

Other Saginaw County Health Department neighborhood-based clinic locations will be offered throughout the county in an effort to bring the vaccine closer to those receiving it. All are planned as indoor drive-thru events for the safety and convenience of the senior population.

With this inaugural clinic on Thursday, the health department plans to vaccinate more than 1,000 people. This will make another significant dent in the 5,000+ people registered with the health department who are over the age of 80.

COVID-19 Update - 1/29/21

Phase 1B prioritizing Groups A (adults 65+) in parallel with Group B (some essential workers including pre-kindergarten through high school, childcare, fire, police, corrections, homeless shelters, adult/child protective services). 
 
Within the “adults 65 and older” age category, the health department is initially prioritizing adults 80+ because of the disproportionate number of deaths in that age group.
 
Vaccinations clinic activity: We have been scheduling clinics with pods of people who have reserved a dose on our website as doses allow, working together as a county to cover those in Phase 1A – our healthcare workers and EMS – as well as Groups A and B in Phase 1B. The Saginaw County Health Department, Covenant HealthCare, SVSU/Meijer, and Ascension St. Mary’s have held more than 10 mass vaccination clinics over the last three weeks in addition to smaller clinics. These have been scheduled by appointment only and were not open for walk-ins. 
 
Timeline: In Saginaw County, we receive roughly 3,000 doses weekly (for first AND second doses). Our Phase 1B population exceeds 50,000 people. If we continue to get 3,000 doses a week, it will take us 8 months to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1B with first and second doses. 
 
We are continuously advocating for more doses from the state and, if we get more, we hope to complete adults 65+ by early April when we will begin scheduling remaining critical infrastructure businesses in Group C of Phase 1B.

COVID-19 Update - 1/25/21

The Saginaw County Health Department, Covenant HealthCare, SVSU/Meijer, and Ascension St. Mary’s have all had mass vaccination clinics over the last two weeks. These have not been highly publicized beforehand – by design -- because they are by appointment only and are not open for walk-ins. 

These clinics, in addition to other smaller clinics held since late December, have produced encouraging results. Our county has received a total of 18,450 doses as of last week and has administered 16,000+ with zero waste. The remaining are earmarked for clinics this week.
 
It’s important to note that some of our doses administered will be attributed to other counties in state data. Some frontline health care workers vaccinated at Saginaw County hospitals reside in nearby communities, where their “doses administered” are recorded in state data.
 
Generally speaking, county vaccine providers in total receive roughly 3,000 doses each week. It changes weekly, making long-term planning difficult. We have been scheduling clinics as doses allow, working together as a county to cover those in Phase 1A – our healthcare workers and EMS – as well as Groups A and B in Phase 1B, which includes adults 65+ and prioritized critical infrastructure workers.

COVID-19 Update - 1/15/21

As part of our partnership to implement the complex task of vaccinating priority groups for COVID-19, the Saginaw County Health Department, Ascension St. Mary's and Covenant HealthCare announced jointly today that Saginaw County is wrapping up Phase 1A after vaccinating more than 7,500 healthcare workers with at least one dose and is ready to move to Phase 1B as doses allow.  
 
Phase 1B will focus on adults 65 years and older, pre-K thru 12 school and childcare staff, fire/police, corrections workers, and staff at homeless shelters and child & protective services – followed by workers in critical infrastructure businesses. This group accounts for well over 20% of Saginaw County’s population, and there currently are not enough doses to vaccinate everyone. It will likely occur in smaller groups as doses become available, potentially taking several months to complete.
 
To keep phone lines open for essential patient care, please do not call the health department or the hospitals for appointments unless instructed to do so. Questions about registration or vaccination for Phase 1B should be directed to covidvaccine@saginawcounty.com.

COVID-19 Update - 01/11/21

Saginaw County has approximately 5,000 health care workers who are currently being scheduled for vaccinations as part of CDC’s Phase 1A prioritized category. Doses are extremely limited throughout Michigan, including Saginaw, and unfortunately Saginaw will NOT be vaccinating 65 years of age and older beginning on Monday, January 11th. We have started taking reservations for this age group. If you are 65 years or older, or registering on behalf of a loved one, please fill out the link here to get on our list. Someone from the Health Department will reach out once we are ready to schedule your vaccination in the coming weeks or months. If you need assistance filling out the form, please call the Saginaw County Commission on Aging at 989-797-6880.

 

COVID-19 Update - 12/30/20

The first priorities include health care workers providing direct care, people who will be vaccinating others, and residents in long-term care settings. If you are a health care worker who is not being vaccinated through a larger organization and will need to be vaccinated through the Health Department, please complete this online survey. **Other types of organizations may also complete this survey, but remember that you will not necessarily receive additional information until we move on to additional phases of vaccination

COVID-19 Update - 12/18/20

Our initial shipment of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived (975 doses)! Plans are in place to start vaccinating our vaccinators and clinic staff immediately so they can vaccinate others.  First priorities (1A) include vaccinators, long-term care facilities, EMS, and frontline heath care providers not already being vaccinated through a hospital or health system.