GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Beginning Monday, more than a million Michiganders will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The next step in the rollout process rests primarily on local health departments and other partners coordinating registration and clinics for people who qualify under Phase 1B and Group A of 1C, which the state authorized Wednesday afternoon.
Those priority groups include front-line essential workers like police officers, first responders, state and federal employees, jail and prison staff, and teachers and child care providers. Incorporating the first group of 1C means people 65 and older will also be eligible.
In West Michigan, coordinating officials have set up VaccinateWestMI.com to streamline the process. A registration link is expected to go up on the site later this week for those interested in getting their dose.
Those who sign up will later get information about how to get their dose once it’s available.
“We really encourage people to be patient,” Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer Dr. Adam London told News 8 Wednesday. “Probably the biggest limitation is the vaccine supply, so while there are many vaccine providers or vaccinators here in West Michigan, the challenge is the vaccine — we just don’t have a lot of it right now. So we really encourage to be patient and know that behind the scenes those of us working at our local hospitals, our health departments and so many other places are doing our very best to get this vaccine in West Michigan and make it available to you as soon as possible.”
London acknowledged the perceived rollout lag statewide, as documented on Michigan’s vaccine dashboard. He explained a factor his department encountered was lower interest in 1A registrations than results coming from eligible people surveyed.
“About three quarters of them said they were interested and when we made registration available to them, only about half of them actually registered,” London explained. “So we kind of scrambled to fill some vacant spots for a while. We think that was in part because of the holidays. We think also there may be some people that, while they want to get the vaccine, maybe they’re not an early joiner. They kind of want to wait to see how others, what their experience is like.”
He doesn’t expect the same scenario in this next phase. If anything, he believes it will be hard for the state to keep up with orders coming from the local officials.
“We think, especially now with the 1B group being so large, that we’re not probably going to have a problem with vaccines sitting in freezers for very much longer at any location around the state or around the country for that matter,” London said.