Expanded eligibility doesn’t equal more vaccine doses in Michigan

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More people in Michigan are now allowed to get a COVID-19 shot. Now the question is: When will they actually be able to get one?

Everyone 50 and older and all adults with a preexisting condition are now eligible. But the expanded eligibility does not mean there has been an equal increase in the number of doses being sent to West Michigan.

The mass vaccination clinic at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids is getting more doses each week — but not much more.

“We continue to be constrained by supplies,” Spectrum Health Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Brasser said. “We’re seeing a couple of thousand more than we’ve seen in previous weeks. Working very closely with the (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services), with the governor’s office to increase that even more.”

Since the DeVos Place clinic — operated by Spectrum Health, the Kent County Health Department other hospitals — opened in January, the number of shots it has been able to give each week has varied. After a steady increase over the first month, weather impacts hurt supply for week five, followed by a spike in supply the next week.

But once again last week, the total number of vaccinations dipped near 10,000, not much higher than week one. This week, the clinic expect to give around 18,000 shots, the most so far but still well below its goal of 20,000 shots per day.

While it’s a good idea to get on the list if you qualify for the latest eligibility, don’t expect a call to set an appointment right away.

“As the criteria expand, we are hopeful that will happening a more expedential fashion. These last few weeks it’s been more incremental,” Brasser said.

It’s much the same in Ottawa County: There’s plenty of interest but not enough vaccine for even those in groups that became eligible earlier.

“When we have appointments filling up within two or three hours, that tells us there’s still a need in that group yet,” Ottawa County Deputy Health Administrator Marcia Mansaray said.

Ottawa County is expect to receive just 3,100 doses this week. That doesn’t include supplies to pharmacies and other special providers who get their supply from the feds. The advice from Mansaray is to register with more agencies than just the health department.

“We want them (people seeking vaccinations) to go wherever they can, and to not be picky about which vaccines (they get),” Mansaray said. “They’re all similar in their effectiveness and their safety profiles.”

One of the ideas behind DeVos Place clinic was to show the state how well local health care agencies could collaborate in the effort. The more efficient the setup, the more the state may send West Michigan’s way. That has yet to happen.

“It does sound like as of the 1st of April, they’ll be more J&J vaccines, that the Pfizer vaccine levels will continue as they have been,” Brasser said. “And hopefully that we see some growth from Moderna as well.”

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