Michigan reps. concerned over COVID vaccine rollout to pharmacies

Officials say too few vaccine doses being distributed

Concerns over COVID vaccine rollout to pharamcies
Concerns over COVID vaccine rollout to pharamcies

The White House has selected specific pharmacies in each state to receive and administer coronavirus vaccines to help ramp up vaccine distribution.

In Michigan, the administration selected Rite Aid pharmacies in addition to others -- but some are wondering why larger chains like CVS or Walgreens were not chosen. The details of the rollout itself aren’t very promising when you ask local health officials.

See: What we know about the process of getting COVID-19 vaccine doses to pharmacies

“Statewide, 20,000 doses are going to Ride Aid pharmacies -- 200 stores across the state. So that’s only going to leave 100 doses per store,” said Andrew Cox, director of the Macomb County Health Department.

The high demand but low supply of the coronavirus vaccine is now drastically impacting the federal government’s work to get pharmacies involved, like Rite Aid.

Director Cox says when he looked at the details of the plan, it was surprising just how few vaccine doses your local Rite Aid store will actually get.

“(Those doses are) not going to go very far, when you look at the populations of Macomb -- the third largest population of 870,000 people -- that’s not a whole lot of vaccine to give out,” Cox said.

Macomb County is a large Michigan county with a large senior and vulnerable adult population. This week, the state sent 1,000 fewer vaccine doses than expected.

“It is very disappointing that a community such as New Haven, in my district, that has a higher (social vulnerability index), just because they’re north of Macomb County, people with those higher SVI factors are not as important as those in Wayne County,” said Michigan Rep. Jeff Yaroch, who represents the state’s 33rd district. “That is very disappointing.”

Related: Detroit Mayor Duggan meets with Biden administration to discuss COVID relief

Rep. Yaroch, who represents the Richmond area, says the formula that the state uses to determine how many doses each county receives does not add up. Yaroch says he wants answers, but argues that the state health department and governor are not giving any.

Last week, the state gave Macomb County about 7,300 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. This week, 1,000 fewer doses were given to the county, which says it can handle 50,000 doses per week. Officials want to know why they’re receiving so few, instead.

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About the Author:

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.