GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It now looks like the lowest-risk groups of Michigan residents may not get access to the COVID-19 vaccine until late summer.
State health officials previously said they hoped the shots would be available to everyone by late spring. But in the current timeline provided by the Michigan Health Department of Health and Human Services, it doesn’t look like the last group — people ages 16 to 64 who aren’t essential workers — will be able to get it until August.
People in Phase 1A (health care workers and people in nursing homes), Phase 1B (front-line workers like police and teachers as well as anyone over the age of 75) and Group A of Phase 1C (people over the age of 65) are currently allowed to get the vaccine.
Under the latest graph, the rest of Phase 1C — people ages 16-64 who have pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 and more groups of essential workers — aren’t expected to start getting vaccinated until the end of April or start of May.
The final sets of essential workers not included in the previous groups may not start getting vaccinated until late June.
MDHHS did note that the dates are estimates and are expected to change based on how many doses the state gets.
As the state has allowed more people to get the vaccine, many local health departments have said they simply don’t have enough doses on hand to get to everyone right away.
In Kalamazoo County, health officers are asking for patience while the county focuses on getting shots to its most vulnerable populations. That includes those age 65 and older, a group accounting for about 80% of the county’s 275 COVID-19-related deaths.
So far, Kalamazoo County has received more than 6,800 vaccines from Pfizer, with more than 5,000 already administered. Each the week, the county is receiving about 3,000 doses, according to Jim Rutherford, health officer of the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department.
With the county just finishing up vaccinating people in Phase 1A, Rutherford said more than 15,000 residents in subsequent groups have already scheduled vaccination appointments. People in Phase 1B will start getting shots next week.
He asked residents to sign up online if possible, to reserve the phone line for those without internet access. To schedule an appointment in Kalamazoo County, visit https://www.kalcounty.com/hcs/covid19.php or call 269.373.5200.
In Muskegon County, where health officials provided an update on the rollout Friday morning, more than 8,500 doses have been given.
Muskegon County Health Officer Kathy Moore acknowledged the state did not send a shipment this week, but the county should have an answer by early next week on the next doses coming in. Mercy Health helped offset the lapse this week.
“The state just called us yesterday and said they looked at the request came in around 2 p.m. on Thursday. They wanted it by 12 (noon) on Thursday, so they made their decisions based on that timeline. I will go with that for sanity’s sake,” Moore said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that it would start releasing more doses to the states, which may cause the state’s timeline to change.
“Please be patient,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at a press conference earlier this week. “We do not have enough vaccines and it takes time to administer these vaccines, but we are building quickly and it looks like we are going to be coming in to more vaccines soon.”
People who want to get vaccinated should not simply show up somewhere expected to get the shot. You must have an appointment. Go to the state’s website to find out where you can start getting in line virtually.
—News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.