DETROIT (August 15, 2021)– With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising 90 percent in the past two weeks across Michigan and the threat of another surge looming, 56 prominent medical leaders at Henry Ford Health System issued a unified call for people to get vaccinated.
In a full-page open letter published Sunday in The Detroit Free Press – the state’s largest daily newspaper – and the Jackson-Citizen Patriot in Jackson, Mich., the leaders said the “science is clear” about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. The letter will also appear in several community newspapers in Michigan including papers in Grosse Pointe, Albion and Brooklyn.
The letter is signed by physicians, nurses and medical professionals who hold leadership positions across the health system and its six hospitals including Henry Ford’s top clinician Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer.
“Vaccination provides the best protection against COVID-19, including unnecessary surges – like the new Delta variant that’s currently sweeping across Michigan,” the letter reads. “Vaccines are effective at preventing the devastating effects of the illness and stopping the spread to our community.”
The letter’s message is also intended to blunt the spread of vaccine misinformation and disinformation on social media, the internet and other unreliable sources.
Currently, just over 64 percent of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. Of the state’s 8.5 million total residents, nearly 55 percent are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Munkarah said the spike in hospitalizations caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant sweeping across Michigan, coupled with the start of a new school year just weeks away, could lead to another surge of patients this fall, straining hospitals once again. He said Henry Ford’s healthcare workers are emotionally spent, exasperated and exhausted after three COVID surges. Vaccination, he said, is the only way out of the pandemic. He said colleagues and fellow physicians, providers and nurses wanted to write this letter to show the community their wholehearted support for and belief in the vaccine.
“Our message is very simple: Vaccines save lives,” Dr. Munkarah said. “We implore those who are still reluctant or hesitant to speak to their trusted doctor. Each of us has a personal responsibility to not only protect ourselves but also to protect our loved ones and our community. We all have a stake in the outcome of this pandemic.”
“We back the science behind the vaccines and are committed to fighting dangerous misinformation about them,” he added.
The letter is part of Henry Ford’s ongoing campaign to administer vaccines and provide community resources around the facts and science of them. Since vaccinations began in December, the health system has administered 334,000+ doses of vaccine and proactively conducted more than 200 community forums and webinars to educate the public about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and to correct the persistent myths and misinformation.
Henry Ford has also been an enrollment site in four vaccine clinical trials – Moderna’s mRNA two-dose vaccine for adults and its KidCOVE pediatric vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose and two-dose vaccine – and can attest to the rigorous research standards involved with testing them.
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About Henry Ford Health System
Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.
The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit. As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.
Our not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.
Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.