Michigan health departments urge patience on COVID vaccines: ‘Demand is overwhelming’

Demand much higher than supply right now

Vaccine demand remains high
Vaccine demand remains high

Michigan has moved into its next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, but that doesn’t mean every person who is eligible can get an appointment at this very moment.

Michigan is in the process of increasing vaccine distribution to local health departments and providers as they prepare to offer appointments to eligible patients. But the demand is much higher than the supply.

Eligible essential workers, teachers and childcare workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinic dates and locations. For every other patient, at this stage, you’ll need to make an appointment when it becomes available.

The state is slowly making more and more departments available for appointments, but vaccine doses are limited and appointments are in high demand. Health departments are urging residents to be patient.

(We’re tracking the list of departments offering appointments here)

“It’s a tremendous relief to add vaccination to the resources we have to prevent COVID-19 from causing additional harm, but this process will take time,” says Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer with Washtenaw County Health Department. “We need everyone’s patience, and we need to keep doing everything possible we can to prevent the spread of illness – including wearing face masks, social distancing and isolating or quarantining when needed.”

Michigan Medicine announced it will pause phase 1B vaccinations due to a lower-than-expected supply. U of M will make sure there are enough vaccines for people from the first phase to get their second dose.

St. Clair County said Monday that vaccine clinics are full right now and appointments won’t be available. “Dependent on vaccine allocation and shipment, future vaccine clinic information will be posted on our website every Friday afternoon. Vaccines will be provided by appointment only to avoid long lines and to avoid running out of vaccine. An online scheduler will be posted at www.scchealth.co. Please ask a family member, friend or neighbor for assistance with the online scheduling.”

Related: US ramps up vaccinations to get doses to more Americans

In Wayne County, officials said residents aged 65 or older can get the vaccine at area health systems as more doses become available. Seniors should contact their health providers to schedule a time to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. No walk-up or unscheduled vaccinations will be accepted.

“We know many people are frustrated about the slow distribution of vaccine from the state of Michigan,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “Despite these challenges, vaccinations are the most effective way to end this pandemic and I encourage all Wayne County residents to get vaccinated. It is safe and effective. We are working with our local hospitals to ensure we can effectively and efficiently prioritize our seniors for vaccinations.”

Ingham County said Monday that 12,000 have scheduled appointments already but thousands more are waiting due to limited supply.

“The demand for the vaccine is overwhelming,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We are working as fast as we can, but the outpouring of people has caused some technical glitches as well as a sizeable backlog of calls and emails. I ask the public to please be patient with health department staff as we try to assist everyone. Many people are desperate to get the shot or to see a loved one get the shot. We feel their sense of urgency and will press forward until everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.”

More: With virus surging, Biden to speed release of COVID vaccines

The bottom line

  • Vaccines are limited, so just because someone is eligible doesn’t mean they are going to get the vaccine immediately.
  • It depends on where you live: You have to check with your local health department because they will have different capacities and workflows. Check the list.

More info from MDHHS:

AGE 65 AND OLDER

Michigan local health departments will schedule vaccinations. You can figure out the name of the local health department for your county using this map.

Don’t see your local department? If your local health department is ready to schedule vaccinations, a link is provided below. If there is no link for your local health department, you can check back tomorrow, as this page will be updated regularly. (State list here)

ESSENTIAL WORKERS

Eligible frontline essential workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinic dates and locations. These workers include school and child care staff, frontline responders, and corrections staff.

EMPLOYERS

The State of Michigan and its partners will be providing information to eligible employers about which types of workers are eligible for vaccination and how these workers can be vaccinated. Employers can check back on this website next week for more information on next steps.

ALL MICHIGANDERS

Please do not call local health departments for information. They are moving as quickly as possible to make vaccine available. They will not have more information than is on this website.

There is limited vaccine in Michigan, so appointments may not yet be available. Please do not go to a clinic for vaccination without an appointment. You can always check this website for the latest information.


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.