McLaren Health Care receives first COVID-19 vaccines, partners with Walgreens

GRAND BLANC — McLaren Health Care (McLaren) and Walgreens announced Thursday a partnership to execute McLaren’s vaccination strategy to protect its employees from COVID- 19 as the healthcare system received its initial allotment of vaccine.

McLaren received 5,875 vaccines from Pfizer Thursday during phase 1A of the nationwide vaccination distribution plan, which is primarily intended in part to protect healthcare professionals as they continue to care for patients battling the virus on top of the critical medical care and support communities rely on.

Vaccinations began immediately as the allotment was distributed throughout the McLaren system.

“We are thrilled to finally see an opportunity to ‘take the fight to COVID-19’ with the highly effective vaccines now in our hands,” said Barton B. Buxton, PhD, president and CEO of McLaren Health Management Group and co-chair of McLaren’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. “Make no mistake, getting this vaccine to the right person, in the right place, at the right time is a complex undertaking. This makes our partnership with Walgreens and their network of convenient retail stores located throughout the McLaren service area more significant and critical to our delivery infrastructure.”

With more than 26,000 employees and over 90,000 network providers serving patients at 15 hospitals and 350 ambulatory facilities across the state of Michigan and northwest Ohio, McLaren Health Care requires a robust, highly coordinated COVID-19 employee vaccination strategy.

McLaren’s partnership with Walgreens expands logistics for the critical operation and boosts McLaren’s ability to vaccinate employees as soon as possible with added safe, efficient delivery and cold storage sites. McLaren employees and affiliated providers and staff will have the ability to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a McLaren facility or select Walgreens in their communities.

“Our first priority is the health and safety of our team members and patients,” said Buxton. “This partnership with Walgreens helps ensure our team members have quick, convenient access to vaccination locations both inside and outside of the hospital and helps keep our focus on the patients in our care.”

Walgreens will also assist by providing vaccine distribution support to McLaren long-term care facilities and other mobilized initiatives as needed.

“Walgreens’ role as part of communities, health systems, and patient care teams has never been more critical or clear,” said Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy, Walgreens. “We have a long legacy of administering immunizations, so while the vaccine may be new, our model and experience are not. We look forward to leveraging our vaccine expertise to support McLaren in this historic effort.” — G.G.