TAWAS CITY – District Health Department No. 2 (DHD2) is working on plans for mass inoculation of the COVID-19 vaccine for the general public, according to the department’s board Chairman Jay O’Farrell.
O’Farrell, who is also the chairman of the Iosco County Board of Commissioners, discussed the matter during a Jan. 6 board meeting.
He said recently DHD2 recently authorized the purchase of four public notice signs, similar to ones that can be seen to show traffic shifts along highways, that will be utilized in the distribution of vaccines.
As far as when the vaccine will be available locally to regular citizens is uncertain, however, with the slow roll-out of the vaccine. Currently front line workers are being vaccinated, included are doctors in Iosco County.
“There is no time line for the mass inoculations,” O’Farrell said. “It was brought up that DHD2 had received a supply of vaccine that was being distributed to first responders in the counts that make up DHD2.”
O’Farrell said the first roll-out to the general public would probably be in outdoor clinics, thus the need for the traffic control signs.
“The health officer did indicate that probably the vaccines will be distributed to individuals in automobiles,” he said. “It would be controlled so you wouldn’t have a lot of people gathering in one central point.”
Commissioner Terry Dutcher, who is the vice chairman of the DHD2 board, said that the digital signs would be made available for other public emergencies as well.
O’Farrell agreed. He said that the signs would be made available in the four county DHD2 area, which includes Iosco, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Alcona counties.
“The health department has no problem lending them out for what every purposes they are needed,” he said. “They are a great tool.
Many medical professionals in Iosco County have already received the vaccine, including members of Iosco County EMS. Scott Kiernicki, operations manager for both Iosco County EMS and Arenac/Iosco Mobile Medical Response (MMR), had praise for DHD2’s vaccine roll-out thus far.
“The effectiveness of the health department, and anyone involved in the county level to get these vaccinations out has been flawless, I just want to thank everyone for coming together,” he said.
Commissioner Charles Finley, who has a background in emergency medicine in the county and has worked for ambulance services, told commissioners that he was eligible to get the vaccine and got his first dose in the morning before the meeting.
“I was very blessed (to get the vaccine) and it was very streamlined,” he said. “I was in and out of there in no time.”
According to a press release issued Jan. 7 by DHD2, Phase 1A of public vaccinations have begun in the district
“Individuals in Phase 1A of the priority group includes EMS, medical first responders, and medical care facilities. We have used our first allotment of vaccine and as we receive more shipments, DHD2 plans to finish as many of the 1A group as possible,” according to the release.
According to DHD2, on Jan. 6 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated their vaccine priority guidance and has authorized local health departments to begin vaccinating the following groups starting Monday, Jan 11:
• People age 65 years or older.
• Frontline, essential workers with frequent or ongoing exposure as a part of their work. This includes some, but not all essential workers previously designated in 1B. First responders, police officers, jail and prison staff, pre-K-12 teachers and childcare providers are included.
In northeast Michigan, this represents thousands of newly eligible individuals. Vaccine availability still depends on both vaccine supply and staffing capacity. DHD2 officials ask the public to please be patient and that they cannot vaccinate everyone eligible immediately.
“DHD2 is working on planning for Phase 1B vaccination clinics. Again, while vaccine supplies are limited, vaccine clinics are by appointment only. They are not walk-in vaccination clinics. We will notify the public via press release, social media, our website on how to schedule for the vaccine at www.dhd2.org/covid-vaccine,” as stated in the release. We ask for your patience as we prepare for Phase 1B. We thank you for your patience as we develop our plan through all of the complexities of changing guidance and limited vaccine allocations.”
Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. Locally, go to where you may find answers to your questions. For COVID-related questions, email us at email@example.com or call our COVID Hotline at 989-343-1827.
According to information released last week from the state, Michigan hospitals, local health departments and Federally Qualified Health Centers are quickly increasing the pace of vaccinations in the state, administering three times the vaccine last week compared to the number of doses administered the first week.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracker data, Michigan is 11th in the nation for the number of first doses administered to date (124,689) behind Texas, California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey and North Carolina. Michigan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard currently shows 152,511 doses administered due to a lag between when CDC posts data and the state updates its information.
“The more people that are vaccinated, the less spread we will have, the fewer deaths and the quicker we can get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “With a new variant of the virus in the United States, one that may be easier to spread than the current variant, there is more urgency than ever to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”
In an effort to increase the pace and make vaccine available to those who have the highest level of risk, because of where they work or their age, Michigan announced it would begin offering vaccine to Michiganders age 65 and older; frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers.
Additional data information based on CDC tracker data:
• Michigan is ranked 10th in the nation for number of doses distributed (480,750) (behind California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia).
• Michigan is ranked 29th in doses distributed per 100,000 population (4,814) (Tennessee, New York, Missouri, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas are just below Michigan).
• Michigan ranks 40th in the number of first doses administered per 100,000 population (1,249) with California, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, South Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi ranking lower. Using Michigan’s dashboard number this would increase to 1,525 per 100,000.