DELTA & MENOMINEE COUNTIES, Mich. (WJMN) – COVID-19 vaccine distribution for people in phases 1B and 1C began on January 11.
Mike Snyder, Health Officer for Public Health Delta and Menominee Counties, says they were allocated 975 doses of the vaccine for this week and have had a high level of community interest in receiving the vaccine.
“We’re very encouraged by the eagerness of the 65 and over population to get vaccinated obviously they are the most vulnerable population within our communities and we want to protect them and by the looks of it and the sounds of it they want to protect themselves by being vaccinated which I think is great,” said Snyder.
Due to the high number of calls they initially received after announcing they would be scheduling appointments for the people aged 65 and older, they switched to a waitlist system.
“Starting today we’ve been taking names and birth dates and phone numbers so we can call them back when we know a vaccine will be available,” said Snyder. “We did enlist the services of 2-1-1, they’re very gracious enough to offer to help create the waitlist and so individuals within Delta or Menominee Counties can call either our local 2-1-1 number or call the health department here and get on the waitlist.”
They initially scheduled appointments through January 22. Snyder says those appointments were scheduled tentatively based on whether they receive enough doses of the vaccine.
“The appointments we have for next week, the week of the 18th of January we don’t have the vaccine for that yet and we won’t find out until Friday whether or not we’re going to get it for next week,” said Snyder.
Snyder says they have to request doses of the vaccine each week and find out how many they will receive on Fridays from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“MDHHS finds out on Thursday afternoon of how many doses they’re going to be receiving either that night or Friday and so then they meet to try to find out how to divvy it up amongst the state you know and there’s 83 counties and many hospitals that are receiving the vaccine,” said Snyder. “It makes it very difficult, for this week for example they received 60,000 doses on Thursday, they had 270,000 dose requests so they don’t have enough vaccine to fulfill all the requests that they get on a weekly basis.
Their biggest challenge according to Snyder is the vaccine supply.
“If we had unlimited vaccine we could set our clinics and have multiple clinics,” said Snyder. “We’ve had a great response from retired nurses and retired individuals willing to volunteer and help actually at the clinic today we have retired nurses working and we couldn’t do this without their help but we could do more if we had more vaccine unfortunately our hands are tied and the state’s hands are tied as well.”
PHDM has partnered with OSF St. Francis hospital to vaccinate people in phase 1B and 1C. PHDM will vaccinate individuals 65 years of age and older and OSF St. Francis will vaccinate essential workers.
Snyder says PHDM and OSF St. Francis each must apply for doses of the vaccine. This week, OSF St. Francis did not receive their requested doses from MDHHS.
“The way that the process works is we notify their employer when OSF has the capacity accept them for vaccine and so for example if a law enforcement agency provides us with their roster when OSF lets us know at the health department that they have capacity we’ll notify that law enforcement agency and tell them go ahead and send your employees over to OSF,” said Snyder.
Snyder says the most important thing for people to know right now is that they need to be patient. He says if you’ve left a voicemail they will get back to you and eventually there will be enough of the vaccine for everybody.
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