University of Michigan to turn Big House into COVID-19 vaccination clinic
The University of Michigan plans to reopen the Michigan Stadium as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic beginning Dec. 31, a Wednesday afternoon press release from Michigan Medicine spokesperson Kelly Malcolm announced. The stadium is one of several “planned locations” under Michigan Medicine’s distribution plan.
“The Big House will reopen to play a critical role in the efforts to quickly vaccinate as many people as possible,” the press release reads.
While the stadium was open to the Michigan football team throughout the season, spectators were not allowed in games. Families of the players were allowed to attend games until Nov. 15, after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a three week executive order that restricted individuals from going to games. Three football games against Maryland, Ohio State and Iowa were canceled due to rising COVID-19 positivity rates among the team.
According to the press release, hundreds of University students and staff who fall under priority group Phase 1A — health care workers as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities — plan to receive vaccinations at the stadium beginning Thursday. More than 6,000 Michigan Medicine healthcare workers have already been vaccinated.
Michigan Medicine received an initial shipment of 1,950 vaccines and began vaccinating employees on Dec. 14, just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. U-M officials had previously anticipated that vaccination would begin on Dec. 15 and ramp up throughout the month.
In an email to The Michigan Daily on Dec. 14, Michigan Medicine spokesperson Mary Masson wrote that the hospital is confident about its distribution plan.
“Michigan Medicine has mobilized its best and brightest faculty and staff, many of whom are leaders in their respective fields, to develop and execute a robust vaccine distribution program,” Masson wrote.
Michigan Medicine announced their two-phase vaccination distribution plan earlier this month. Along with Phase 1A, Phase 1B includes other workers deemed “essential,” such as food service workers, educators and police. Phase 1C is for all adults older than 65 as well as those with high-risk medical conditions.
Phase 2 covers large scale distribution to all adults. According to a Dec. 14 email from University President Mark Schlissel, the University will eventually acquire enough doses for all those who wish to get the vaccine.
In November, Michigan Medicine created the COVID-19 Vaccine & Therapeutics Taskforce, which works alongside the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to create a plan for distribution and identify priority groups.
U-M community members have since been asked to complete a Blue Queue questionnaire, a survey to determine interest in the COVID-19 vaccine and help the University plan to distribute vaccines once they are widely available to students, faculty and staff.
While some students reported feeling wary about vaccination, many said they are confident in the vaccine’s efficacy and said they plan to receive a dose as soon as possible. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are proven to be safe for nearly all adults and are at least 94% effective in preventing symptoms of COVID-19.
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