Health officials surprised by vaccine expansion
It was a surprise announcement for many in the vaccination business: Beginning April 5, all Michigan residents 16 and older will be able to be inoculated against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Despite that, health departments will have to scramble to meet demand for the vaccines in advance of the eligibility deadline.
That may not be an impossible feat – vaccine production is already accelerating and new shipments of the supplies are expected to increase in the coming weeks.
Still, some health officials were caught flat-footed by the announcement.
“To be honest, we’re still digesting a lot of it,” said Steve Kelso, communications manager for the Kent County Health Department. “We have reason to believe the vaccine supply is about to increase dramatically and we think … we’re in a very good place to do exactly what Biden said, to get these shots administered and maybe we can all have a happy Fourth of July.”
President Biden announced during a Thursday address that he wanted to expand vaccine eligibility everywhere by May 1.
Kalamazoo County health officer Jim Rutherford has repeatedly said their department could be doing more but for the availability of the vaccine.
“If we vaccinate three to four thousand a week, that’s great. But I know I can do three times that. I just need to get the vaccine,” he said.
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