Vaccine shortage prompts Beaumont Health to cancel appointments for shots

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Beaumont Health announced Monday it has canceled nearly 2,000 appointments this week for people expecting their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The health system canceled 1,884 second-dose appointments scheduled for Thursday after learning on Friday of an unexpected reduction in Pfizer vaccine allocations from the state.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 file photo, a healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at Beaumont Health in Southfield.

The hospital system said it is working to reschedule those appointments one week later on the same day, at the same time, barring the state supplies enough of the vaccine by then.

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Additionally, Beaumont Health will not schedule new first dose vaccine appointments at the Beaumont Service Center until it gets more doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“We are so disappointed that we had to cancel these appointments," said Beaumont Health Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Wilson in a statement. "Our teams worked around the clock and throughout the weekend with the state to try and secure the second dose vaccine we requested. We remain committed to vaccinating patients as quickly as possible as soon as we receive our allocated doses of vaccine.”

The shortage was not related to Monday's announcement that the state will begin distributing vaccine to federally qualified health centers in an effort to make sure those at the highest risk of serious complications — racial or ethnic minorities, or people with lower incomes or disabilities — get priority for vaccines, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin said.

She called Beaumont's actions "unfortunate."

"We have a goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older as quickly as possible with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine," said Sutfin. "The state has been working with Beaumont Health for the past week to reconcile their second dose shortages. It is unfortunate that they chose to cancel second dose appointments while we were continuing to work with them on this issue."

While Pfizer's vaccine doses are recommended to be given three weeks apart, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine remains effective when patients receive the second dose up to six weeks after the first dose, the hospital system said.

The health system, which has administered more than 100,000 doses of vaccine, said it is prepared to administer 50,000 doses a week, but this week received about 2,200 doses.

Beaumont said it will email patients about canceled appointments and will reach out by phone to those without an email address.

Beaumont noted that patients scheduled to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the health system's Dearborn location are not affected.