Michigan doctor pleads for quicker Covid vaccines after six patient deaths in 12 hours


<p>Kellie Johnson, a respiratory therapist, receives the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.</p> (AP)

Kellie Johnson, a respiratory therapist, receives the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

(AP)

A critical care doctor has put out an emotional plea for healthcare workers to be vaccinated as quickly as possible after he described his teams struggle with deaths of patients at his hospital.

Douglas Allen Arenberg, a pulmonary diseases specialist with Michigan Medicine, explained on Friday that was forced to “retreat” to the stairwell of a hospital amid one of his shifts, Newsweek reported.

“I don’t have my Covid shot yet. So I am posting this picture of the stairwell where I retreated yesterday after the 6th death in less than 12 hours,” the doctor tweeted.

“Just needed a place to gather myself and try to rally my team of residents, nurses, RTs & Pulm/Critical care fellow…,” he added.

The Ann Arbor-based doctor urged Michigan Medicine to “please hurry and get the ICU staff, residents, and attendings vaccinated”.

The first people across the US began receiving the Pfizer Covid candidate last week after the jab was given final approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

Healthcare workers and nursing home residents are initially being prioritised for the shot, but the number of vaccinations in the initial rounds of federal distribution is limited.

“I cannot fathom anything more demoralising than seeing all these photos of our colleagues getting immunised while we wait,” Dr Arenberg said. “The stairwells are getting pretty full.”

Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan, said in a statement on Monday that it had received an initial shipment of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine.

The medical centre said that they expected “to vaccinate about 40 employees beginning on Tuesday and ramping up the volume further as early as next week, depending on supply”.

The statement said that as the centre includes approximately 28,000 employees and initial supply is limited, they will be “coordinating a phased approach of priority groups” based on state and federal guidelines.

Marschall S Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine, dean of the U-M Medical School, and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Michigan, said: “It will take time to get to everyone who wants a vaccine”.

“While distribution continues, it’s vital for all of us to continue to social distance and wear masks when going out in public.”

Statewide, Governor Gretchen Whitmer lashed out at President Donald Trump’s administration for “slow-walking” the rollout of the vaccine in Michigan after reports of reduced shipments on Friday.

Michigan had initially anticipated 84,825 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in its second round, but will now receive reduced 60,000 doses.

On Saturday, Army General Gustave Perna apologised for a “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution.

“I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,” he said. “I know that’s not done much these days. But I am responsible … This is a Herculean effort and we are not perfect.”

Dr Arenberg later expressed gratitude to all “healthcare workers, custodians, food service workers” and others working in the hospital in the fight against the pandemic.

“Keep posting pics of your Band-Aids,” he said. “The rest of the world needs to follow your lead. I love every last one of you.”

Michigan has recorded almost 500,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began, leading to the deaths of over 12,000 deaths.

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