Vaccine eligibility expands in Michigan

Everyone 50 and older is now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, as well as people 16 and older with medical conditions.

State eligibility guidelines expanded access to coronavirus vaccines on Monday to two new groups of people.

All Michigan residents age 50 and older are now able to book appointments to be vaccinated, regardless of their medical status. People age 16 and up with medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus are also eligible.

Just because someone is eligible to be vaccinated doesn’t mean they’ll be able to find an appointment, though. Limited supplies of the vaccine mean it may still be weeks before eligible people are able to actually go through the process.

Kalamazoo County’s Department of Health and Community Services has added a section for newly eligible people. However, the county is also using a new process for scheduling appointments – one that may make it difficult for people to register.

Rather than having people sign up on a waiting list, the county opens up appointment slots for each week on Mondays. Those appointment slots filled up rather quickly for this week, leaving people who are interested in being vaccinated to try again next Monday.

Appointment slots become available on Mondays at 7am, noon, and 5pm. The process is first come, first served.

Other facilities are handling vaccination appointments differently. Bronson Health is scheduling appointments for existing patients through its MyChart system, but hasn’t updated its guidelines to include the newly eligible groups.

Similarly, private pharmacies like Meijer and Rite-Aid haven’t updated their eligibility guidelines.

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Time is short for the newly eligible to be vaccinated before the guidelines expand again. State officials have announced that everyone in the state 16 and older will be allowed to get a COVID-19 shot beginning April 5.

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