Chippewa County Health Department helps vaccinate Great Lakes ship crews

Eastern UP

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – The Chippewas County Health Department (CCHD), in collaboration with the Lake Carrier’s Association and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are helping to make sure crew members on Great Lakes’ area ships are vaccinated against COVID-19.

We spoke with Karen Senkus, Health Officer with CCHD on Monday. She said last week, they were contacted by the Lake Carriers’ Association, asking if they could help with vaccinating crew members.

Some were called back to work before they were able to receive the vaccine in their own community. In some cases, people had received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine and were trying to schedule a second dose while on the job. By last Monday afternoon, CCHD met with the Lake Carriers’ Association and the Army Corps of Engineers at the Soo Locks. By Tuesday morning, crew members on a Great Lakes ship were receiving vaccines.

“I was impressed with our nurses. They stepped right up to the plate. They weren’t scared to get on that ship. As of Monday, CCHD will have vaccinated about 70 people on seven different ships. Two ships were scheduled to receive doses on Monday,” said Senkus.

Senkus said 90% of those vaccinated on the ships are Michigan residents. The other 10% come from the Ohio area.

“We, at the start of the pandemic, as public health, we prepared for and talked about what to do if there were an outbreak of COVID-19 on one of the vessels, how we would work with the crew in quarantine.” Senkus continued, “We never expected to be the one’s offering the vaccine. So it’s been really nice to do this because we do no how important the shipping industry is, not just to our community, not just to the state of Michigan, but nationwide and globally.”

Senkus talked about how CCHD’s allocation of vaccines has allowed them to offer this to ship crews.

“We’re not using this vaccine, or shorting our supply in Chippewa County by using this vaccine on these ships. It’s already here, we already have it, and we are still making it a priority to vaccinate Chippewa County residents first.”

Senkus said if they were to have a lesser amount of vaccine, they would pull back from the ships to prioritize the community.

In Chippewa County, for those ages 65+, 62% have had one dose and 58% are fully vaccinated. For people ages 18+,  33% have had one dose and 30% are fully vaccinated.

Senkus said they are not experiencing shortages of vaccine and continue to encourage people to register for shots. She added the wait time is typically one day from the time you register for your vaccine and that is only so they have enough time to get you scheduled.

For information on COVID-19 vaccination appointment, please
visit www.chippewahd.com or call 906-635-3640.

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