Vaccine Tracker: Michigan vaccine eligibility moves to 16 and up
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -On this edition of the Vaccine Tracker, we’re looking into the expansion of vaccine eligibility in Michigan. April 5th is the day Michigan allows those aged 16 and up to be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
First let’s look at the progress in Michiana as a whole, this map is a county-by-county look at the percent of each county fully vaccinated as of March 26th:
And next as of April 5th:
(Note, the numbers on the state dashboards online may show different numbers than these maps based on when the state updates their websites, these are as of 5pm on 4/5/21))
We’re seeing some impressive progress in a just a week and a half as St. Joseph County in Indiana jumps up 10% to 26.1%. That county now leading Michiana so far. In total, five counties are over that 20% and Elkhart will likely join the mix in a day or two.
To learn more about the expanded eligibility in our Michigan counties I spoke with the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) on Monday. They tell me that their supply doesn’t quite meet demand but over time they expect that to improve dramatically. BCHD says their supply increases every week, using all three vaccines, and they do about 4,000 to 5,000 COVID vaccinations per week. That number is likely even larger if factoring in the federal providers in the area.
BCHD says that high-risk populations will be given priority, even with the expanded eligibility.
“We know that close to 70% of our older adults over the age of 65 have already received their COVID-19 vaccine, but for any of those remaining who have not yet gotten in for an appointment we’re continuing to prioritize those. We encourage those older adults to give us a call and we’ll be able to assist them in getting an appointment immediately,” Gillian Conrad says. She is the communications manager for BCHD.
Moving to 16 and up is coming at the right time for Michigan, as the state has over 1,400 cases of the B117 UK variant in the state. That’s the highest in the country only second to Florida.
The key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and those variants, is to get more shots into arms.
“The more people we get vaccinated the closer we get to those levels of herd immunity which are needed to end this pandemic. The longer that we allow the variants to mutate and infect more and more people we continue to be in this race against time with getting more people vaccinated and stopping the virus,” Conrad says.
We’re also taking a look at appointment times, and so far the expansion of eligibility does not appear to have negatively affected appointment availability. However, this is something we will be watching throughout the week as more people sign up for vaccinations.
Here are links for information on signing up at each of 3 Michigan counties in Michiana.
Also, remember to try the federal sites like pharmacies and stores like Meijer who offer the vaccine. Rite-Aid also has available appointments as of the time this article was written.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on the vaccination rollout, and I want to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook and send a message if you have an issue or idea of something we can dig into on the Vaccine Tracker.
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