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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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One year after first COVID-19 vaccines administered, here's where Michigan stands

Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 14, 2021

(WXYZ) — One year ago Tuesday, the first COVID-19 vaccines began going into the arms of Michiganders.

It was viewed as a turning point in the battle against the coronavirus, and gave hope to many of us that life would get back to normal.

But, administering the vaccine has been an incredible feat and an enormous challenge. We're looking back at how far we've come, and the work left to do.

It was nine months into the pandemic that changed the world when shots went into the arms of frontline healthcare workers in Michigan. It was viewed as the beginning of the end of lockdowns, masking and social distancing.

Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease physician at Michigan Medicine, said the vaccine has worked in turning the tide.

"Vaccination has kept people out of the hospital, kept people alive, to some extent, has allowed the people in the state to do things again," Cinti said.

In the past year, nearly 6.2 million Michiganders, just over 62%, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But vaccine uptake hasn't been even.

"Right now, we're at 44%, so we're not where we would like to be, but we're definitely on the right path," Denise Fair Razo, the chief public health officer for the City of Detroit, said.

Razo said during the past year, her office has been pushing hard to combat vaccine disinformation. In addition to massive efforts like the TCF Center drive-thru, where at its peak, 4,000 people a day got shots. Her office has been providing clinical nurses to answer questions in the community.

"We were in churches and schools, not only providing the vaccine but making sure that they knew they could come to us and ask us whatever questions were on their mind," Fair Razo said.

That effort continues with a campaign that has knocked on over 350,000 doors in Detroit. Over 200 Detroiters are being vaccinated in their homes every day.

But now, Michigan is in the middle of another surge, fueled in part by a slowing vaccination rate and variants including delta, and now the new omicron variant.
the answer, according to Cinti, is still vaccination and boosters, but for how long?

"If the virus keeps changing, then what will happen is they'll have to keep changing the formulations of the vaccine. And that's what Pfizer is doing that right now," Cinti said.

Cinti said an omicron-specific booster may not be needed. He believes we have protection from the vaccine and boosters we've been getting. But the longer we remain unvaccinated here in America and around the world, the threat of dangerous mutations will remain.

"The best thing you can do is get the vaccine. It will protect you. It will protect your family," Cinti said.

After a year, Cinti said we do know the vaccines are safe and effective.

He points to Michigan's struggling healthcare system. Most of the people in the hospital and the ICU are unvaccinated, at a time when he have COVID-19 and the flu.

Cinti says the longer we have significant portions of the population unvaccinated, the more room we give the virus to mutate and that could drive the need for additional boosters.

If not we could see the need for boosters on a regular basis.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.