GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — The governor announced Wednesday that Michigan will move into COVID-19 vaccination Phase 1B, which will be extended out to people ages 65 and older, starting Monday.
Local health departments say the announcement came a bit sooner than expected.
"But, we'll be ready," said Dr. Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department.
KCHD is working in partnership with other West Michigan health departments, health systems and other partners to coordinate a response to the next rollout.
If you fall in the next phases, you will be able to register for vaccination appointment later this week at vaccinatewestmi.com, London said Wednesday.
"When you do register, you'll find detailed information about where you're going for your vaccine," he said. "We do have a lot of partners who are all involved. Some are offering vaccine at different places some of their buildings some an alternative locations."
London said the situation will be fluid. At this point, there are no announcements yet for mass vaccinations clinics, however, he said they are working to secure larger venues to provide vaccinations in a way similar to COVID-19 testing.
The biggest issue will be supply of the vaccine. Right now, many local health departments have used up the majority of their initial shipments.
"We're really scheduling these appointments with a little bit of a leap of faith that more vaccine is going to continue to come, as we make more more appointments," London said.
Right now, West Michigan health departments are putting out a last call for Phase 1A eligible people to get vaccinated. Once registration opens up for the next phase, London says it will likely be first come first serve.
The rollout to the next phase brings with it a much larger group of people eligible to receive the vaccine. Kent County estimates the next phase may include as much as 20% of the population.
"So, we know this to be a large group, and we really, I can't impress upon people enough, we really encourage people to be patient. Stay calm. The vaccine is going to be limited. It's going to take a little while for us to have enough to get it available to everyone," London said.
The progression in vaccination comes just days after Center for Disease Control data indicated that Michigan was the seventh lowest in the country for vaccinations. State officials have said that ranking was based on lagging data, and that Michigan's low ranking no longer stands.
As of Wednesday, the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services reported that 152,000 doses had been administered and 520,000 had been shipped out to providers statewide.
"We've set the expectation that 90% of doses received by any facility in this state need to be in arms within seven days, and we know that all of them are working very hard to meet this goal," Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said during a Wednesday press conference.
Here is how the state defines the next phase:
Phase 1B Includes
- People 65 years of age or older not covered in Phase 1A. This includes those in a congregate setting that were not reached in Phase 1A.
- Prioritized frontline workers whose work role has frequent or intense exposure, and, due to the nature of the work, are not able to maintain social distance. For example, a first responder may have to physically touch other people in their response, and a child care provider cannot maintain social distance from children when caring for their physical needs.
The specific prioritized categories are:
- Pre-Kindergarten through high school teachers, support staff and child care workers who usually have direct contact with children
- First responders not covered in Phase 1A (e.g., firefighters, police, conservation officers, inspectors)
- Corrections workers (e.g., staff in prisons, jails, juvenile justice facilities)
- Workers in homeless shelters, congregate child care institutions, and adult and child protective services
If further sub-prioritization is needed of frontline essential workers due to limited vaccine supply, MDHHS will consider prioritizing workers in locations where high rates of transmission and/or outbreaks have occurred and workers who are at increased risk for severe illness based on age or underlying medical conditions.
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