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Michigan expands COVID 19 vaccine eligibility as demand remains high

Posted at 11:22 PM, Mar 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 15:24:58-05

(WXYZ) — This week, a whole new group of Michiganders will be eligible to receive the COVID 19 vaccine.

Starting March 8, those 50 and older with medical conditions and disabilities will be eligible to receive the vaccine, along with any caregiver who cares for children with special needs or health conditions.

"When people hear that they’re eligible for a vaccine, sometimes they think that means there's a vaccine waiting for them. That is not the case,” said Macomb County Health Officer Andrew Cox.

Cox is asking for patience as the State moves vaccinations on to the next phase. He worries local health departments aren’t ready yet.

“It's not that we don't want any other groups to come through, but now you have multiple more people competing for those same vaccines,” Cox said. "With opening this up and in such short notice is a difficult challenge for all local health departments.”

The County is still working to vaccinate seniors 65 and older but frustration is mounting. Last week appointments filled up within 15 minutes.

“We’re seeing a little more uptick in vaccines, but we’re still not at a level that is meeting the demand,” Cox said.

The County has administered more than 60,000 doses so far and their most recent shipment was just shy of 9,000. When appointments open up on Tuesday morning, he’s expecting to be flooded with calls.

"People get frustrated when they cant get an appointment. They feel like they’re competing and they’re just another number,” Cox said. "By opening it up to additional groups, that’s just increasing the number of people that are competing for that vaccine.”

Since shipments vary each week, it’s hard to book appointments in advance. However due to the expected demand, Macomb will try booking 2 weeks in advance.

While this week will bring a massive increase in demand, Cox is hoping their supply of vaccine follows suit.

“Our folks in public health are working very hard to get people vaccinated and patience is appreciated by everyone,” Cox said.

Appointments in Macomb County open up Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. You can book by calling 586-463-8777 or by visiting www.macombgov.org/covidvaccine.