GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Less than a day after the state signaled the next phase of Michigan’s vaccine rollout can begin, local health departments are working to share realistic expectations with their communities.
“It’s fair to say that we were caught off guard,” Ionia County Health Officer Ken Bowen said of the state’s authorization after sending a press release out Thursday morning.
He noted everyone is doing the best they can, but there simply isn’t enough doses available to the health department to vaccinate those eligible under the next group.
“Yesterday the Governor announced that Michigan will be moving to Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccination starting next week. This will include individuals over 65,” the release read in part. “Unfortunately, ICHD does not have enough vaccine to cover all of this large group at this time. We currently have a small amount of vaccine that is already spoken for in planned clinics. We do not expect more vaccine until close to the end of January. We will do multiple large announcements when we are ready to start vaccinating the over-65 group. We also intend to set-up an online pre-registration process for the over-65 group.”
The Mid-Michigan Health Department, which covers Montcalm, Clinton and Gratiot counties is sharing a similar message on its website:
“Our clinics are currently full, but be sure to check back often. Additional clinics will be scheduled when we receive more vaccine, and there are often cancellations,” the note, bolded and in red, states on the department’s page. “We do ask that you not call our office to let us know that our clinics are full, or to ask how to schedule a vaccination as our phone line is not able to handle the call volume. We know this situation is not ideal, but we have limited vaccine and can not schedule any more clinics until we receive another shipment.”
The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department also conveyed its current circumstances.
“There are organizations within Phase 1A that are still awaiting vaccination that includes over 200 organizations identified with roughly 5,000+ individuals,” a press release stated. “To date, the health department has received 1,950 vaccine doses, and has vaccinated 2,029 individuals. It is important to note that more people have been vaccinated than anticipated due to some vials containing more than the official five doses.”
Calling on the federal government for more supply is a point Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made during Wednesday’s announcement authorizing the next group. The state receives its supply from the feds, which then gets distributed to providers like health departments.
“Vaccination is dependent on vaccine supply received from the State. Shipment of vaccine supply has been limited. Vaccine supply will largely be the determining factor for when Kalamazoo County can move into the next phase,” the Kalamazoo County response noted.
On Wednesday, Kent County’s health officer asked for patience as the next phase begins.
News 8 has reached out to the state and additional counties for more information. This is a developing story. Check back for updates as they come in.