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COVID-19 vaccination efforts moving away from large scale clinics

"We're definitely going to be shifting our focus," said Marcia Mansaray, the deputy health director for Ottawa County.

For the first time since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout started, Ottawa County couldn't fill all its appointments last week even after offering walk-ins. 

"We knew we were coming toward that, but it solidified and it was time now for a change in strategy," said Marcia Mansaray, the deputy health director of Ottawa County Department of Public Health. 

Throughout the rollout, OCDPH has been carrying out targeted efforts to vaccinate those who couldn't access larger scale clinics. Going forward, Mansaray said it's unlikely the county will continue holding clinics at places like the Holland Civic Center. 

"We're definitely going to be shifting our focus," she said. 

In Kent County, the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place is set to close at the end of May after administering over 200,000 doses of the vaccine. 

The clinic initially saw its appointments fill up instantly with a lengthy waitlist, but more recently, it's moved to offering walk-ins. 

"We're in a very different place now. Demand is much less than it was a couple of months ago, and the ability of other providers to provide vaccines has increased dramatically," said Dr. Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department. 

"So, we're not at the end of our vaccine campaign by any stretch, but we're transitioning into what best fits our community's needs right now."

Community-based clinics like ones hosted by New Hope Baptist Church and the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan have made the vaccine more accessible.

London said moving forward the county will be working to bring the vaccine closer to people's homes with the help of community clinics and mobile vaccination units. He says for many people it's less of an issue of hesitancy and more of accessibility. 

Visit vaccinatewestmi.com for information on upcoming clinics.

"It's not in many cases that they're unwilling to get vaccinated. It's just they may not be highly motivated to make a special trip somewhere to get vaccinated," London said. 

In Ottawa County, Mansaray said the county is planning partnerships with employers, churches and most recently offering vaccinations at the Tulip Time Festival. 

In Kent County, 55% of the population ages 16 and older have received the first dose of the vaccine and 52.6% in Ottawa County. The state health department has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of that population, which is now tied to the state's re-engagement plan. 

But Mansaray said she's hopeful they will be able to vaccinate beyond that goal. 

"It will take us a little longer, but I would really love to see, before we get to the fall, and go indoors and start school back up and resume sports and have holidays that everyone has gone in and gotten their vaccine," Mansaray said. 

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