Winter storm foils vaccine rollout; supply expected to increase

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Progress to reach herd immunity against COVID-19 has been hurt by bad weather, but there are signs that supply is on the upswing.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the supply chain for vaccines was hampered by a winter storm down south.

A spokesperson for MDHHS could not share the specific number of doses that were delayed, but the state dashboard gives some indication of the impact.

For example, based on data available as of 6:30 p.m. Monday, Michigan’s daily average of doses administered Monday through Friday last week was 37,071.

That’s a significant drop from the 56,582 weekday-daily average the week prior and 53,550 daily average the first week of February.

Michigan previously set a goal of administering 50,000 shots per day.

LOCAL IMPACT

Monday afternoon, the Berrien County Health Department put out a notice that appointments scheduled for Feb. 23 must be postponed because of the shipment delays.

“Everyone who had an appointment on Feb. 23 was to receive a 2nd dose of the Moderna vaccine. All of these second-dose appointments are being rescheduled for March 1st at the same time as their previously scheduled appointment at the Health Department’s Benton Harbor office,” the release said. 

Representatives from Kent, Kalamazoo and Ottawa county health departments all told News 8 appointments there are not impacted.

In fact, this week, the Kent County Health Department is receiving its largest shipment yet with roughly 10,000 doses coming from the state.

“I do think that dam is going to break and before long, we’re going to have more vaccine than we have appointments,” Kent County Health Officer Dr. Adam London told News 8. “When that happens, the last thing we want to have is vaccine sitting in our freezer while people want to get vaccinated, so we’re ready, we just need more of it.”

The county’s largest vaccination clinic at DeVos Place is equipped to administer 20,000 each day if supply can meet infrastructure capabilities. 

“In many ways the news has improved lately. Our rate of new cases has fallen, our positivity rate has fallen, the rate of death has fallen,” London noted. “The number of vaccines has gone up. We have almost 100,000 Kent County residents who’ve received at least one dose of vaccine. All these things are really, really promising.”

He is also reminding people of variables working against that progress.

“We still have a couple months of winter. We have these variant strains that are more contagious, so I just really want to encourage people, please maintain discipline with the mask use, with avoiding social gatherings and large groups and the hand washing and sanitation. We still have at least a few months to go through before we’re out of the woods with this,” London said.

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