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In slow rollout, half of eligible Munson Healthcare workers vaccinated

Screen capture from Munson Virtual Press Conference


Three weeks after receiving its first COVID-19 vaccines, Munson Healthcare says 51.3% of eligible workers, more than 5,000 employees, have been scheduled or vaccinated as the hospital system moves to administering the second dose for some.

While Michigan is slow overall to vaccinate—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Michigan is in the back of the pack for vaccine distribution—Munson is even further behind other state figures.


Michigan hospitals report roughly 65-80% of employees in the 1A tier of vaccine rollout are opting for the vaccine, says John Karasinski, the Communications Director for Michigan Health & Hospital Association.


Dr. Christine Nefcy, the Chief Medical Officer for Munson Healthcare, says there are a few reasons staff are forgoing the vaccine, including some who are hesitant to get it, like expecting or breastfeeding mothers, or those who are giving up their spot.


“Many of our support service people who are working from home have declined getting the vaccine so that they can leave it for other people working the front line,” she says.


Nefcy says there are some who are concerned about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The hospital has shared webinars and FAQs to inform and dispel misinformation. 


“Our employees are a reflection of the communities and our population as a whole,” she says. “So some people are just sitting back and waiting to hear.”


Nefcy speculates that Michigan may be behind others on distribution because the state has prioritized getting the vaccine to workers most at-risk of coming into contact with the virus, which are best delivered through vaccine clinics.


It’s difficult to react quickly because the federal government doesn’t communicate how much of the vaccine they’ll get or when it will arrive, says Nefcy.


“This isn’t a drive-thru flu shot kind of vaccine,” she says. “We have to schedule the second dose. We want to monitor these people for 15 minutes. There’s a lot of different nuance with the distribution of this vaccine than when we see with typical vaccines."

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.