COVID-19

Vaccines still in short supply as state expands eligibility

Beginning Monday, people age 50 and older with pre-existing conditions will be allowed to be vaccinated against COVID. But availability is still a problem.

On paper at least, people age 50 and older with health conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan. But actually finding appointments is another matter as there are still lists full of others waiting to be inoculated.

What Happened: Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the state would expand who is eligible to be vaccinated.

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Under the new rules, people age 50 to 64 with a pre-existing health condition can access the COVID-19 vaccine. So can people caring for those with health conditions, homeless people, and prison and jail inmates.

At the same time, facilities offering vaccines have a backlog of people from other groups still waiting for appointment slots.

As of Sunday night, the Kalamazoo County Department of Health and Community Services (KDHCS) had no option on its website for people in the new groups to sign up for appointments. Neither did Bronson Methodist Hospital or Rite-Aid. Only Meijer Pharmacies were reportedly setting appointments for the new groups.

Bridge Michigan reports that half of Michigan’s seniors have yet to be vaccinated. Kalamazoo County fares a little better than the state average with roughly 67% of people age 65 and older having been inoculated so far.

Kalamazoo County had vaccinated more than 48,000 people as of last Friday, but there are still many more to go. KDHCS is asking people age 65 and older who haven’t already been vaccinated or set up an appointment to contact the department.

“It is the top priority for the health department to vaccinate as many eligible residents as we have vaccines,” said Jim Rutherford, the health officer for Kalamazoo County, in an interview with MLive. “The data shows that as a county we are doing well in vaccinating those over the age of 65 years old. If you want to be vaccinated and you have not heard from us, please reach out so we can get you scheduled.”

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