MICHIGAN — Wednesday, the state of Michigan announced the expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to more essential workers and those over 65, but some West Michigan health departments are saying that they won’t be ready to start that next phase come January 11th.
Kent, Ionia, Kalamazoo, and Allegan counties all report that they’re working hard to keep up with those eligible to be vaccinated, but they simply don’t have enough supply.
Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer, Dr. Adam London, PhD said, “I think it would be foolish of us to think that this is all going to happen smoothly. There are going to be challenges.”
That’s why health departments are pleading for patience.
Dr. London said, “The supply of vaccines is extremely limited right now. We are only getting a little bit from Lansing week by week, but we are going to do our very best to get this to the people of Kent County as quickly as we can.”
The department has received less than 3,000 doses so far and they’ve used almost all of it.
Kent County isn’t alone in feeling pinched; Allegan, Kalamazoo, and Ionia counties are all saying they’re still working to vaccinate those in the 1A group, including healthcare, EMS, first-responders, and those in longterm care facilities.
“I don’t think we are going to have a problem with vaccine sitting in a freezer anywhere, I think the problem we are going to have very soon, in fact we’re already at that point, is that we don’t have enough vaccine coming in every week to replace what we’re using,” London said.
The Kalamazoo County Health Department reported Thursday, that they’ve received 1,950 doses of the vaccine, adding that they’ve vaccinated 2,029 people. They were able to reach more people due to some of the vials containing more than the standard five doses.
Dr. London said that it’s unclear where the logjam is happening.
He said, “I’m not exactly sure where the bottleneck is with a vaccine supply, other than the fact that what we are doing right now is really unheard of in history, and the fact that we have worldwide demand for these products. It’s going to be a little bit difficult to manage that supply and the demand for a little while here.”
Allegan and Ionia counties say they don’t expect their next shipments of the vaccine until the end of January and will only able to move forward to phase 1B when they get more.
Kent county isn’t sure when their next shipment is arriving at all.
While the supply may be short at the moment, Dr. London said even a slow-moving rollout is still progress.
“I’m happy that we can start getting this vaccine to that older population, they are the group that had the most severe consequences of the illness,” he said, “I am also pleased that we were going to be able to start getting it available to our teachers. Education is a critical part of our infrastructure and we all know the consequences of not having in-person school.”
London went on to say that by expanding the eligibility for vaccination, we will start to see a change in the pandemic.
He said, “We are hopeful that by doing this, we can keep schools open in-person and we can keep the best education possible available for our young people.”
If someone does fall into the 1B category, you’re encouraged to visit vaccinatewestmi.com.
That’s where you can start scheduling appointments and view any updates from health departments across West Michigan.
Kalamazoo residents who still need a vaccination and fall into the 1A category, should fill out a registration form online at https://www.kalcounty.com/hcs/covid19vaccine.php.
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