LANSING, Mich. – In just five days, more than 12,000 people have scheduled appointments to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD), but thousands more are still waiting for the chance to schedule an appointment despite their eligibility because vaccine supply is limited.
People age 70 and older account for most of the newly scheduled appointments followed by teachers and staff working in pre-kindergarten through high school and child care workers. Health care workers were previously vaccinated with 3,057 getting the vaccine from ICHD between December 21 and January 6. These groups represent the 1A and parts of the 1B prioritization groups set by the State of Michigan. Michigan announced the opening of the 1B group on Wednesday.
“The demand for the vaccine is overwhelming,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We are working as fast as we can, but the outpouring of people has caused some technical glitches as well as a sizeable backlog of calls and emails. I ask the public to please be patient with health department staff as we try to assist everyone. Many people are desperate to get the shot or to see a loved one get the shot. We feel their sense of urgency and will press forward until everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.”
ICHD estimates that there are 83,000 people in Ingham County now eligible for the vaccine, but due to supply, ICHD is only able to vaccinate approximately 2,000 new people each week. (Second dose vaccinations are scheduled separately.) The health department is largely booked through February 24, but looking for opportunities to scale up vaccinations through partnerships and increased supply. More appointments will be added at ICHD and through other agencies soon. ICHD was originally one of only two local health departments in Michigan offering appointments to people in the Priority 1B group, which contributed to high levels of inquiry from across the state. Many other local health departments have since opened up to 1B appointments.
People are encouraged to assist family and friends without internet access or email with the online registration and appointment process if possible. Community partners are being recruited to assist as well, and a hotline has been set up for those without access to the internet. The ICHD COVID-19 vaccine hotline number is (517) 887-4623. The State is also securing assistance from Michigan2-1-1.
People who have received links to schedule an appointment, but were unable to find openings are encouraged to visit the link daily until they can make an appointment. Those who have booked appointments are asked to make every effort to keep the appointment and to cancel the appointment via the scheduling email if they cannot make it. Missed appointments could result in spoiled vaccine.
At this time, the Ingham County Health Department is administering the Pfizer vaccine only. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized use of the vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Details regarding the times and locations of the mass vaccination clinics remain undisclosed publicly as vaccination is by appointment only. At the vaccination clinic, people must present their identification and proof of employment if it is applicable to their priority group. Appointments are only open to people who live or work in Ingham County.
To get vaccinated through ICHD, people must complete a registration form available on the health department’s website. When the person’s vaccination priority group is eligible, the person will receive a link to schedule an appointment via email. ICHD is following prioritization set by the State of Michigan. People with greater vulnerability due to age or exposure have been prioritized.