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Michigan nursing homes move through first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

As of Sunday, 81,336 doses had been administered through the federal pharmacy partnership.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — State health officials say all residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities enrolled in the federal pharmacy partnership have been able to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids is one of over 400 nursing homes receiving the vaccine through the pharmacy partnership with CVS and Walgreens. As of Sunday, 81,336 doses had been administered through the program.

By Wednesday, all 400 residents and 200 staff members at the two Clark campuses — which include independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing — will have been able to receive the first dose of the vaccine. 

"We will have nearly 100% of our residents vaccinated. We're approaching the 50% mark for all of our employees and we think that'll continue to grow," said Brian Pangle, CEO and president of Clark Retirement Community. 

The last 11 months have been isolating for many, but especially those in long term care facilities who have been mostly unable to see their loved ones. 

"It has not been an easy time," Pangle said. 

Pangle said the community has tried to make visits available virtually and socially distanced when possible. He is hopeful that vaccines will allow for public health restrictions on long term care facilities to be rolled back. 

"What's been transpiring over the last 10 months is the lack of interaction and connectivity to family members, so we're seeing even greater degrees of depression, loneliness, isolation," Pangle said. 

Nearly 4,000 people living in nursing homes have died from COVID-19 in Michigan. Health and safety restrictions have been put in place throughout the pandemic to address the outbreaks. 

The vaccine rollout first started in Michigan nursing homes on Dec. 28. It was one of the first places outside of hospitals to begin receiving the vaccine. 

The first vaccine clinic at Clark's nursing home happened on Jan. 8. 

"The joy, the happiness, the excitement of knowing that they are going to be in a safer place," Pangle recalled of residents' faces at the first clinic. 

The state has distributed 430,200 doses to Walgreens and CVS for long term care facility vaccinations. There are over 700 more vaccine clinics scheduled. 

Michigan's vaccination phases: 

Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities.

Phase 1B: Persons 65 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure. 

Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.

Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.

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