TAWAS CITY – An update on District Health Department No. 2’s efforts to give out their limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines was given to the Iosco County Board of Commissioners during a meeting held Jan. 20.

Iosco County Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Abbott discussed the ongoing clinics that are being held by DHD2 to vaccinate whose the agency can as part of the effort to protect essential workers from the virus.

Currently, as part of the state’s preliminary vaccination time line, those in the “1B” group are receiving vaccination, Abbott said. Those include individuals who are 75 years old, frontline/federal responders, school and childcare staff, corrections staff, and other essential frontline workers. The 1A group previously vaccinated (and which is continued to be vaccinated) includes healthcare workers and long-term residents of adult care facilities, and staff.

Abbott told commissioners that he has been working with Cory Upper of DHD2, the agency’s emergency preparedness coordinator, on holding vaccination clinics for the public. He said recent clinics included one earlier in January, held in Ogemaw County, for emergency first responders. Another clinic, for school teachers, was held in Hale. 

There were around 250 employees or so that went through there,” Abbott said. “Upper did a fantastic job of organizing it, and it went like clockwork.”

A third clinic that was scheduled for Jan. 23 was to be held at Oscoda Area Schools, for those who qualified. Abbott said another 300 vaccinations were going to be doled out at that event.

Abbott wanted to let the public know that just as soon as the vaccines are coming up they are doing clinics.

“Upper only gets a few hundred vaccinations each and now that we have been through one round it is going to take a little while, with our Moderna vaccine,” Abbott said, noting that with the current approved vaccines a person must get the vaccine, and then a booster shot almost a month later to make the vaccine effective.

“There will be several clinics – they are trying to do at least one clinic a week until they get first and second rounds done,” Abbot said.

During the meeting Chairman Jay O’Farrell, who is the chairman of the DHD2 board, noted that there are issues all over the country, not just Michigan, in getting a steady supply of the vaccine for the public. He said with the amounts that DHD2 is getting, they are holding as many clinics as they possibly can to get the doses out to the public. 

“With the Moderna vaccine they have to get a repeat within 28 days, it’s going to be a while, but we are hoping by late spring or early summer anyone that wants a vaccine will be able to obtain one,” he said.

Commissioner John Moehring noted that there have been supply chain issues with the vaccine, as well as instances where some of the vaccine that was going out to different states had to be destroyed.

“There was a certain amount of vaccine that was compromise because of refrigeration issues, they had to get rid of that amount of vaccine,” he said. “It’s a work in progress and hopefully you are correct that we can get through this pandemic.”

O’Farrell said at last count there were more than 5,000 people who had preregistered for just the first shot in the DHD2 clinics, but DHD2 is only receiving several hundred vaccines at a time. He said the public should remain patient as the vaccine is rolled out. He said DHD2 is doing everything they can, including bringing nurses and other medical professionals out of retirement, to help administer the shots.

Commissioner Terry Dutcher, who is the Vice Chairman of the DHD2 board, noted that he has read in publications, including this one, on DHD2s roll-out plans, but said some in the public were not getting the message.

“It seems that some people don’t get that paper and perhaps there should be something on the airwaves, something announcing where the plan is,” Dutcher said, noting that the individuals who contacted him do not use computers. “I hope we can get this word out a little bit better.”

O’Farrell told Dutcher that at the next DHD2 meeting, he would bring up the topic about getting the vaccine news out in different forms to better inform the public.

“I know there is always room for improvement,” he said. “I know the health department is doing  the best they can under the circumstances.”

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