Metro Detroit county leaders express frustration with COVID vaccine rollout

MDHHS issues statement in response to concerns

On Monday, frustration grew as seniors trying to get vaccinated found out the wait may take longer than expected.

DETROIT – On Monday, frustration grew as seniors trying to get vaccinated found out the wait may take longer than expected.

Some are putting the blame on the state saying recent changes made are no longer making seniors a priority.

County executives shared some of their concerns about the issue.

The vaccine rollout has not been as smooth as some would have hoped.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is blaming the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and saying that the focus has shifted away from seniors.

The MDHHS has now allowed other essential workers to get vaccinated and Hackel believes that move wasn’t the right one to take.

There have been issues all over not just in Michigan and the rollout has caused confusion and concern for many.

Right now the best advice is still connecting with your local health department, your doctor or your hospital.

Make sure you’re registered in a patient portal and check your email often.

Unfortunately, the reality is this process is taking longer than many had hoped and more delays might be coming.

Lynn Sutfin, public information officer for the MDHHS issued the follow statement in response to concerns on the issue.

“MDHHS is committed to accelerating vaccine delivery as we work to reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16 as quickly as possible with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Michigan has prioritized vaccine allocation within CDC’s Phases, with an emphasis on both protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness and ensuring the continuing functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community. The strategy is efficient, effective and equitable, focusing on making vaccine available to those who have the highest level of risk, whether it is because of where they work or because of their age.

That’s why we are moving to make vaccine available to any Michigander over age 65 and accelerating vaccinations for our pre-K-12, child care staff and other essential frontline workers; it’s why we are collaborating with the federal pharmacy program to accelerate delivery and working to address vaccine hesitancy in nursing homes; and it’s why we are accelerating distribution with the National Guard and pharmacy partners. As 80% of COVID deaths have been among those 65 and older in our state, ensuring older Michiganders get vaccinated is the best way to protect them from the virus. We have highly encouraged vaccine providers to prioritize vaccination of older residents as they begin to expand their vaccination efforts.  As Michigan moved from Phase 1A to an expanded Phase 1B, MDHHS has limited the Phase 1B essential worker category to workers who have high levels of personal exposure.  If further sub-prioritization is needed of frontline essential workers due to limited vaccine supply, local health departments may consider prioritizing workers in locations of their jurisdiction where high rates of transmission and/or outbreaks have occurred and/or workers who are at increased risk for severe illness based on age or underlying medical conditions.

This is the most massive vaccination effort ever undertaken in the country, and every state is grappling with vaccine distribution going slower than needed to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. Vaccine is being delivered each week to providers across the state and MDHHS is working with these entities to support their operational plans and provide additional staffing support to increase the speed at which the vaccines are being administered.

We ask that Michiganders have patience as we recognize that there is not enough vaccine for every currently eligible individual with the limited supplies we have. This is why we have asked the federal government to give the State of Michigan more vaccines. There will be some places that run out of vaccine and do not have enough appointments available. Please keep checking for information about your local health department and opportunities to get vaccinated. We are also exploring options like 211 to provide assistance.”

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About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.