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Michigan urges primary care doctors to do vaccine

MICHIGAN GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER speaks Wednesday in Lansing. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and chief health deputy, is at right. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health officials on Wednesday urged primary care physicians to enroll to administer COVID-19 vaccines, as the state prepared to quickly begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds after U.S. authorization.

“The most important thing we can do right now is to make vaccines available for whenever someone is ready,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and chief health deputy, said during a news conference. “We know that patients trust their doctors and when they are ready to get vaccinated, we want you to have vaccine on hand.”

She encouraged doctors to check if their patients have been vaccinated and if they have any questions.

About 55% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have been vaccinated. Later Wednesday, federal health advisers endorsed vaccinating children as young as 12, days after the Food and Drug Administration cleared the expanded use of Pfizer’s shots.

“We are ready to go in Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

The push to make doses available in physicians’ offices will complement the state’s focus on taking mobile clinics to places such as churches, and vaccinating people who are homebound.

Dr. Srikar Reddy, president-elect of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, said it is time to shift attention to residents who are hesitant about the vaccine and to the newly eligible who are 12 to 15 years old.

“It only makes sense to visit your family physician to get vaccinated and to get your teenager vaccinated, too,” he said.

The Michigan State Medical Society, a group of more than 15,000 physicians and medical students, welcomed the decision to expand providers’ ability to request and provide vaccines.

As of Tuesday, pediatricians, family doctors, internal medicine physicians and OB-GYN specialists had administered roughly 188,000, or 2.5%, of nearly 7.5 million doses in Michigan. More than 83% of shots had been administered by local health departments, pharmacies and hospitals.

Vaccinations of 12- to 15-year-olds could begin Thursday.

“Adolescents have been infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 in increasing numbers during the spring surge as the presence of variants has grown in Michigan,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. “This vaccine proved to be 100% effective in trials of this age group, and even more importantly, extremely safe — meaning young people who get vaccinated can return to doing so many things they’ve missed over the last year.”

Michigan reported an additional 17 deaths and nearly 2,200 cases.

The state still had the country’s highest two-week case rate, according to Johns Hopkins University, but numbers continued to improve. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,680 on Monday, down from 4,856 on April 26 and the third surge’s peak of 7,873 a month ago.

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