Health systems expect slow start to vaccinating new 50+ with health conditions eligibility group

Posted at 3:12 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 17:44:21-05

WEST MICHIGAN — Michigan’s vaccine eligibility expanded Monday, March 8 to include those 50 years and older with underlying health conditions, as well as caregivers.

RELATED: State to expand vaccine eligibility to residents 50+ with pre-existing conditions on March 8

While that group can start signing up depending on where you live, health experts say you may still be waiting a bit to actually get your shot.

“Just because it opened up, doesn’t mean everywhere that they will be able to get a vaccine right away,” explained Eric Pessell, the Health Officer for the Calhoun County Public Health Department.

That message is something we’ve heard a lot over the last few months, but health departments, could really use your patience.

Pessell said, “We knew this day was going to come, we just weren’t sure it was going to come quite this fast.”

Those 50 and older with medical conditions or those caring for family members with special health needs are now cleared to get their COVID-19 vaccine. However, Pessell tells FOX 17 that their health department is still working through the previous eligibility group.

He said, “We are continuing to work with some of our agricultural folks right now, as well as the others, finishing up our schools, daycare‘s are big.”

It’s the same for Spectrum Health across West Michigan.

RELATED: Health systems expect slow start to vaccinating new 50+ with health conditions eligibility group

Dr. Liam Sullivan, an Adult Infectious Disease Specialist with Spectrum Health said “In Kent County, and all the counties where Spectrum Health covers, I believe we still have a lot of 65+ people that need to be vaccinated first, so they are still going to get priority over everybody else.”

Dr. Sullivan said while there may be an initial lag, they’ll catch up quickly.

“We are limited in our supply of what we get from the state. It’s getting better, it’s increasing, it’s getting better, so I would expect all this to really start to accelerate hopefully in the next few weeks,” Dr. Sullivan said.

Right on the heels of this expansion looms the general 50+ population opening on March 22nd.

Pessell said, “I understand that everyone wants to get the vaccine and that’s great right? We want the uptake to be as much as possible, but please understand that those that are both between 50 and 64 that have those severe underlying conditions, they are at higher risk.”

He added that it’s a simple ask as they work around the clock to get vaccines to people who need them.

“It’s a daunting task and I hope people just realize there’s a lot of really good hard-working people in public health that are dedicated to doing this and to bring this vaccine to them as fast as we can,” Pessell said.

All health systems encourage those who are eligible to register ASAP, so they can start administering shots to the next group right away.

The CCPHD said that they will have their registration for the 50+ group with health conditions online later this week.

You do not have to show proof of a medical condition when you arrive for your appointment, just answer the questionnaires honestly online or over the phone when you register.

SEE MORE: CDC-backed website hopes to connect people with available COVID-19 vaccines