Vaccine rollout speeding up, but herd immunity months away

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The vaccine rollout in Michigan continues to slog along, with herd immunity still months away at the pace we’re going now.

The goal is to vaccinate 70% of Michigan’s population age 16 and up. That’s about 5.6 million people. Since each person needs two doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — the only two currently being used — we’re talking about 11.2 million shots.

So far, the state has administered about 1 million shots.

Last week, the state averaged 37,000 shots a day. At that rate, we’re still nine months out from hitting the goal.

Even if the state reaches its goal of 50,000 shots daily, the 70% mark is still more than six months away.

But the state’s maximum vaccination capacity remains to be seen. It has been improving, up from 19,000 per day in the first week of January.

Health leaders believe they could reach 80,000 shots per day if the state gets more doses from the federal government.

“Michigan’s biggest challenge with the vaccine rollout has been the limited supply of vaccine, lack of predictability regarding vaccine amounts week-to-week, and the lack of a national strategy until now,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, told federal lawmakers Tuesday as she testified before a congressional hearing. “Despite this, Michigan has made significant strides. Yesterday, we announced surpassing 1 million doses of vaccine being administered statewide and we have jumped more than 20 places in the rankings over the past few weeks as it relates to our proportion of the population vaccinated. Michigan has made this progress because we have been intentional and focused.”

“What we need at the federal level is a larger and consistent vaccine supply, as well as additional funding to specifically address barriers to access,” she added.

The state is also changing how it is distributing doses. Previously, counties requested how much they wanted. Now, the state will dictate what each provider gets. The goal is to prioritize vulnerable communities.

“Places have been requesting doses but there was no guarantee people would get what they requested,” Kent County Health Department Medical Director Dr. Nirali Bora told News 8 Tuesday. “What we’re hoping is that the state is looking at the Social Vulnerability Index from the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This really takes into account poverty, access, transportation, racial (and) ethnic disparities, all of these different factors that really make a community more vulnerable. And we’ve seen that COVID has disproportionately impacted some of these communities as it is, so that may help get vaccine where it needs to go.”

As of Monday, Kent County, West Michigan’s most populous county, had given initial shots to about 10% of its population, Ottawa and Muskegon counties are at about 9% each and Allegan County is at 6%.

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