LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– There is a disconnect tonight between Sparrow Health System and the Ingham County Health Department after the hospital gave 200 City of Lansing employees early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It happened. It was an error. I’ve had discussions with the state as well as Sparrow Health Systems about that and it’s like okay, mistake, now we’ve got to move forward and make sure we don’t make mistakes,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said Tuesday afternoon during a weekly health briefing.
Leaders with Sparrow however, told 6 News it was not a mistake.
“We began 1B vaccinations. We know that there some people in 1A that have not yet been vaccinated, but all of the 1As had been offered. Linda’s a great health officer and if we could vaccinate in line perfectly, we would certainly do that, but we are obligated to get shots into arms, following the governor’s guidelines and following CDC’s recommendations to vaccinate as quickly as possible,” said Sparrow Health System’s Senior Vice President Karen Kent-VanGorder.
Sparrow said the effort was part of a pilot program to vaccinate an outside group as opposed to just caregivers. The hospital said it offered 200 vaccines for 1B classifications in the city and “they sent who they sent.”
In a statement the City of Lansing wrote in part:
“Sparrow contacted the City of Lansing to offer vaccines that needed to be used immediately to City employees so that they would not be wasted. Mayor Schor has advocated for all offered the shot to be vaccinated. He signed up for one of the last time slots available for City employees to ensure that others had an opportunity before him.
Contrary to what is being reported, the Mayor did not receive special treatment. Mayor Schor encourages everyone who has the opportunity to receive the vaccine, to take it.”City of Lansing – Office of Mayor Andy Schor
Under state guidelines, critical infrastructure workers fall into Group C of the 1B vaccination phase, and Vail said, per the state, only Groups A and B are eligible at this point, not Group C.
“I’ve been paying close attention to this guidance and I guess there was a misunderstanding relative to all of these things,” Vail said.
Kent-VanGorder reiterated there was no confusion or misunderstanding and did not directly answer when asked if she had a message for people who are still waiting for their first dose and are higher in priority than those in Group C.
“We want our society to keep going and every vaccine you give is someone that could not contribute to the burden of disease in the community,” she said.
But Vail emphasized that there are state guidelines that need to be followed and based on what she was told by state leaders Tuesday, there are still people in line who’ve yet to receive their vaccine
and should have gotten them before some of those city employees.
“We still do have teachers, we still do have daycare providers to vaccinate. We actually still have some 1A people who basically need to be vaccinated and we certainly need to be vaccinating our 75 and over as well as that 65 to 74 so, that’s why it was an error. I think it was a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation,” Vail said.
The doses given to city employees has not affected the availability of vaccine in terms of allocation from the state, according to Vail.