‘We Are Now in a New Era:’ MDHHS Leader, Medical Professionals Receive COVID-19 Vaccine 

On what she described as a “monumental” day, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive and Henry Ford Hospital emergency medicine physician Joneigh Khaldun, MD, joined other Henry Ford frontline healthcare workers from across the health system in being the first in Wayne County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Khaldun received her vaccine during a special livestreamed “First Vaccinations” event at Henry Ford Hospital this evening.

She was joined by numerous other health professionals from Henry Ford and throughout the metro Detroit region who rolled up their sleeves and were vaccinated.

Some did it for different reasons: their family, their faith, their patients, their community, themselves, for science — but above all, they did it because they are ready to put COVID-19 behind them and do their part to help stop the continued loss of lives [they see on the job] as the death toll staggers to over 300,000 people in America, according to the New York Times. In Michigan alone, there are over 11,200 reported deaths, according to reports.

Covid-19 Pfizer Vaccine delivery to HFH

“Not only is this an historic day, but also an emotional day as well,” said Henry Ford Health System President and CEO Wright Lassiter III. “Many of our frontline team members were moved to tears when they learned they would be getting the vaccine today.”

“These front-line heroes have been putting their health and their lives on the line every day to provide care to those in our community who have been stricken with this disease,” added Lassiter. “For this, we owe them our deepest thanks, gratitude and admiration.”

During a brief speech before her vaccination, Khaldun said how it is an “honor” to be there in this historical moment.

“We are now in a new era of fighting this virus; there is hope,” Khaldun said, adding that because of the vaccine, 2021 will be “very different.”

She went on to thank frontline healthcare workers there today and all across the state.

“The sacrifices you’ve made and your patients … all the amazing staff who continue to show up every day to provide the highest quality care of COVID and non-COVID patients [we are] proud,” Khaldun said, adding that it is challenging to be a part of healthcare especially at this time. “We know it is our duty to serve.”

Lassiter III called Khaldun “the voice of reason,” and today is an important day.

“[Thank you for] sharing a message of hope as we are vaccinating our staff,” Lassiter said, also showing his gratitude toward the other healthcare personnel. “I want to thank every single one of you … we cannot say thank you enough. These have been unbelievable for 10 months … yet your courage, dedication, commitment is what has got us here today to start vaccination and put this behind us. I’m optimistic 2021 will be a much better year. Our journey has started now.”

Dr. Gale Darnell, MD, Emergency Medicine, said after receiving her vaccine that she was ready.

“First and foremost, I’ve prayed about it. I have peace about it,” Darnell said. “Henry Ford Health System during the pandemic, I think, was a leader in protecting us and making sure patients stay safe … I’m thankful that there is now a real light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to a Henry Ford Hospital press release, as of this morning, each Henry Ford Health System Hospital, including Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, and Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital, received 975 doses of the vaccine for frontline healthcare workers who are at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Supply of the recently approved Pfizer vaccine will increase over the next few months. Those eligible to receive the vaccine first include frontline healthcare workers. Until the supply is available to a larger population, priority will also be given to essential workers and vulnerable populations [like adults 65 years of age and older and adults with high-risk medical conditions]. Also, individuals who are homeless will be given the vaccine through local health departments.

According to a report from michigan.gov/coronavirus, no fees will be charged to get vaccinated, the report added, and there will be no cost-sharing from insurance plans. Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost.

COVID-19 providers agree to administer the vaccines regardless of an individual’s ability to pay and regardless of their coverage status and may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from a vaccine recipient.

Although vaccine providers will be able to charge administration fees for giving or administering the shot to someone, the report added. It is also critical that those vaccinated receive both doses within the required time frame to ensure the best protection from COVID-19.

An advisory panel on Thursday recommended that the Food and Drug Administration issue an emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine, according to https://www.statnews.com/.

The authorization is expected on Friday, the report added.

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