High-risk Metro Detroit woman hits vaccine roadblock as healthier friends get the shot

Washtenaw County resident’s path to vaccine complicated when her doctor practices in Wayne County

One Metro Detroit woman believes a distance of 20 feet may be keeping her from the opportunity to get the shot.

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. – Each day, there are new stories of frustration from people who are unable to get an appointment for vaccination -- even though it’s their turn.

One Metro Detroit woman believes a distance of 20 feet may be keeping her from the opportunity to get the shot.

Debbie Pettitt, 68, has multiple chronic heart and lung conditions, but she said she is definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time for a vaccine.

“Naively, I thought it would be priority-based,” Pettitt said. “At Michigan Medicine, they have no say, no input.”

It’s a scary time for Pettitt. She can’t get coronavirus and she can’t seem to get the vaccine because of where she lives -- within 20 feet of where Wayne and Washtenaw counties meet. She lives in Washtenaw County, but her doctor practices in Wayne County.

“I go on Wayne County and it just says nothing,” Pettitt said. “They’re not doing anything.”

She has friends that are younger and healthier than her who are getting their vaccine shots. She said they are getting multiple vaccine appointments.

READ: Who goes first? Vaccine rollout forces stark moral choices

“Can you take someone else’s appointment if they give it to you?” Pettitt asked.

Most heath systems and county health departments will not allow anyone to share their appointment. It’s frustrating for Pettitt, who is unable to get an appointment when her friends are getting shots.

“Many of my inner circle got a vaccine and got a second opportunity,” Pettitt said. “How about some of us get a chance first?”

READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases


About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.