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West Michigan collaborative launches site for COVID-19 vaccine information

The site includes local distribution plans and will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — A collaborative of hospitals, health departments and universities launched VaccinateWestMI.com, a resource for West Michigan residents to receive updates on the COVID-19 vaccine.  

The site includes local distribution plans, frequently asked questions and an option to receive updates as they become available. 

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, highly effective and will be our best defense against the virus,” said Dr. Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department. “But it won’t be available to everyone immediately. It’s critical for the residents of West Michigan to have access to accurate, timely and consistent information about the vaccine so we can all do our part to slow the spread of the virus. That’s why we joined with partners throughout the region to launch this site.”

The West Michigan vaccine collaborative formed to allow for coordination for what is expected to be the largest vaccination undertaking in the nation's history. 

The group is comprised of nine local health departments and over a dozen other partners.

"We not only want to make sure we're doing fair and equitable distribution, following the tiers, but we really want to understand what each other is doing, so that our plans are coordinated and well thought out," said Mary Wisinski, a registered nurse and immunization supervisor for Kent County.

The collaboration allows for them to avoid 'stepping on each other's toes' as Wisinski put it, a lesson learned following vaccinations for swine flu. 

The Pfizer vaccine was the first to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in the U.S. on Dec.11, but initial supplies are extremely limited. 

The first shipments of the vaccine departed the Pfizer plant in Portage on Sunday morning. This initial rollout of the vaccine, which includes about 2.9 million doses, is expected to reach all 50 states. 

The next vaccine in the pipeline from Moderna could be approved as early as this week. Michigan is expected to receive 173,000 doses.

Health experts recommend everyone over the age of 16 to get the vaccine. But, the vaccine will likely not be available to the general public until the spring depending on availability. 

"My phone's been ringing off the hook. I get it. People have questions. This is exciting news," Wisinski said. "It's very exciting and many people would love to get on a list, and we just are not at that point, yet."

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