Kalamazoo County Health begins next phase of vaccinations in those 65 and older, school workers

Phase 1B COVID-19 Vaccinations - Kalamazoo County Health
Posted at 3:24 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 16:59:27-05

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The next phase of vaccinations are underway in Kalamazoo County for those ages 65 and older as well as additional essential workers.

Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department (KCHCSD) said they already have over 20,000 people pre-registered for this phase of vaccinations.

SEE MORE: Kalamazoo County launches COVID-19 vaccine registration form for Phases 1A, 1B

SEE MORE: State expanding vaccine eligibility in bid to accelerate process

SEE MORE: WATCH: Kalamazoo County has 15k people on COVID-19 vaccine waiting list

While it is a long list, the health department started administering them on Tuesday, and one of those recipients said she never expected to have the vaccine this soon.

"I decided to get it, because I want to be safe, my family to be safe and everyone else. Too many people have passed away from this," said Frances DeYoung, who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

99-year-old Frances DeYoung was the first of many in Phase 1B to receive her first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Kalamazoo County.

Alongside Frances was 90-year-old Arthur Anderson, his wife Diane and 101-year-old Agnes Bennink.

"For a moment, I was afraid to take it and everything, but my daughter came and encouraged me to take it because they were concerned about my age. I’m 90 years old," said Arthur Anderson, who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

"A lot of times I don’t get out of my apartment, but I just don’t want to take a chance in getting it," said 101-year-old Agnes Bennink, who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health officials said this is an important group to protect considering the danger the virus poses for them.

"In our county alone of the 275 deaths that we have encountered, 94% of those have been within the population of those over the age of 60. It is really important that we are able to get to the most vulnerable people of our population," said Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department's Health Officer Jim Rutherford.

So far, the county has received 6,825 doses of the vaccine, but estimates this current phase, which also includes some essential workers like those in schools, will total over 47,000.

"1B is a big, big lift, and 1C is going to be a big, big lift. I mean, to date, we have only vaccinated about less than 10% of our population, but we are moving and getting there. This signifies really I think a huge step forward," said Rutherford.

Kalamazoo County said how quickly they work through this phase depends on vaccine supply available.

The health department is asking those who qualify to pre-register and be patient while they work through the list and continue to vaccinate.

To pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.