General Motors intended to inform its global workforce by the end of December of its plan for when a COVID-19 vaccine would be available and how GM would administer it to those who wanted it.
Today, almost three months later, there are no vaccines available for GM and therefore no firm plan yet.
Similarly, across the city, Ford Motor Co. in November purchased 12 ultra-cold freezers around the world to store vaccines. The freezers remain largely empty and any plan for administering the injections is done on ice.
Only Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, recently obtained 1,200 vaccines through the Boone County Health Department in Illinois and administered them to about a third of its workforce at its assembly plant in Belvidere. But it also didn’t set a plan for delivering the injections beyond that.
“We have no control. Like everyone else, it is the state and local governments that determine when and how much, ”said Jodi Tinson, spokesperson for Stellantis. “We are working with Boone County to get a second dose for the 1,200 people who received the first vaccine. When they have more for the rest of the factory, that is up to them. We are waiting.”
Car insurance:Lower Credit Ratings Raise Prices for Black, Latino and Native Americans
Vaccines against covid19:CVS helps underserved Americans schedule their appointments
Despite their behavior, automakers each aggressively contact government officials almost daily to lobby for a program on vaccine readiness and any information on the government distribution process.
Companies also continue to work on a variety of options for delivering vaccines to employees who want them when the drug becomes available. Think of it like company-sponsored flu shots.
But with these COVID-19 shots in such small quantities, the timeline for their arrival continues to stretch further into the year. The recent episode of winter storms that ravaged much of the country is not helping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they expected winter storms to cause widespread delays in vaccine shipments over the next few days.
“Even President Biden has had to give up saying that anyone can get a spring shot. Now he’s talking about summer, ”US representative Debbie Dingell told The Free Press. “So the cars are taken, like everyone else. There is a supply problem. “
Dingell, D-Dearborn, works closely with Detroit automakers. She said she spoke to executives at each company regularly, sometimes daily, on a variety of topics, with vaccine distribution being a major concern.
Besides squeezing supply, Dingell criticizes Michigan’s vaccine distribution plan, saying many older people are still not getting them.
“We are working with everyone to get vaccines in people’s arms as fast as possible,” Dingell said.
The UAW is helping. UAW leaders and the Detroit Three speak regularly to work on a plan to get the vaccine to the 150,000 union members of the three automakers. But they have to wait for various states, including Michigan, to offer more details on vaccine availability.
“The UAW continues to work with the Biden administration, the Detroit Three and all of our employers on vaccine distribution plans,” said Brian Rothenberg, UAW spokesperson. “These plans will be implemented when the vaccine is available, how much is available at a given time and other distribution variables by state. In some cases, like Stellantis / FCA Belvidere, they have already been implemented.”
GM promoting vaccination
For the Detroit Three, all options are on the table in terms of how to deliver the vaccines once they are available.
GM is working with public health officials on the availability and identification of priority groups in each state, spokesman David Caldwell said.
“Regional teams work in partnership with health systems, medical providers and national pharmacies to administer the vaccine to employees,” Caldwell said. “GM continues to update employees as we get more information, and we encourage all employees to get vaccinated.”
Caldwell said GM was preparing to administer vaccines at several of its sites. For example, if health officials designate a GM site to receive a vaccine, then GM will notify employees and immediately establish a schedule. The shot would be free for employees, Caldwell said.
After:GM prepares to unveil plan to workers for COVID-19 vaccine distribution
GM is also working on ways to help employees determine when a vaccine may become available at a local pharmacy or health care provider, so that an employee can choose to be vaccinated there, Caldwell said. GM partners with various pharmacies, including CVS.
“We continue to share information from our Medical Director, Dr. Jeffrey Hess, on vaccine safety and effectiveness, including a series of employee videos,” Caldwell said. “We have posted and continuously updated a series of online questions and answers on COVID, among other resources.
Line them up, roll them up
Stellantis workers who make the Jeep Cherokee at Belvidere Assembly in Illinois were among the first auto workers in the country to receive the vaccine.
Illinois, as well as Michigan, have identified manufacturing as essential. But unlike Michigan, Illinois was ready to enter this phase of the vaccine distribution plan. This is why almost a third of the 3,792 workers at Belvidere Assembly got the shots.
“Boone County let us know, as the state entered this phase, that they had a stipend for us and could start administering the vaccine to interested employees,” Tinson said.
A clinic near the plant run by the Swedish and American health system was the perfect place to offer the vaccinations, Tinson said.
“We lined up our employees to come in and roll up their sleeves,” Tinson said, adding that the shooting was free for the workers.
The county donated 1,200 Stellantis vaccines as part of a pilot program that ran from February 2-4.
As to when the rest of the company, including Michigan workers, will get it, Stellantis continues to speak to government officials and remains open to a number of options for administering the vaccines.
“We’ve been talking to them for a long time. It’s part of the process and we have open lines of communication with everyone, “Tinson said.” We are looking at all the possibilities to administer the vaccine. We are looking at all distribution options. It could be a collaboration with our pharmaceutical partner CVS … or a drive-thru if we can do that, those are all options we are considering. “
Focus on the essential
Ford had no new development for its plans to help workers get vaccinated, beyond ordering a dozen ultra-cold freezers to store the vaccines that need them.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech, which promises 95% immunity based on clinical studies, should be stored at around minus -70 degrees Celsius.
After:Ford aims to offer COVID-19 vaccines to employees, orders ultra-cold freezers
The Dearborn, Mich., Automaker is working with government leaders around the world to secure vaccines, Ford spokeswoman Cassandra Hayes said.
“We plan to make vaccines available to our employees on a voluntary basis,” said Hayes. “Our initial priority is given to essential workers in our manufacturing plants, warehouses, workplace dependent employees and employees who must travel.
Ford’s administration of vaccines will vary by location, she said.
Editor-in-chief Phoebe Wall Howard contributed to this report.