The state of Michigan recently approved COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line essential workers, teachers and those age 65 and older — and that creates significant challenges locally, according to Jen VanSkiver, chief communications officer for the North Ottawa Community Health System.
"Unfortunately, many vaccination sites across the state — including the Ottawa County Department of Public Health and North Ottawa Community Health System — have not been given enough of the vaccine to even schedule appointments," she said Monday.
VanSkiver said that the newly eligible group of residents number in the tens of thousands in Ottawa County alone.
"While it is a wonderful sign that so many in the community are anxious to do their part, it is frustrating that distribution of vaccine is not keeping pace with demand, and puts vaccination sites that are otherwise ready to go in a very difficult position," she said.
VanSkiver said the state's method of distribution is to look week to week at how many vaccinations were given in the seven previous days, and replacing those vaccines that were used up over that time.
"However, vaccination sites need to be sure they have enough inventory on hand well ahead of time to address not only the pent-up demand heading our way but also simultaneously finishing vaccinating those waiting boosters, like doctors, nurses and EMS providers," she said.
NOCHS has submitted a request for more vaccines, but has not yet received that supply.
"We are proud to have been among only a small number of hospitals to complete vaccination clinics for our staff in a matter of days," VanSkiver said. "And prouder still to have made our surplus immediately available to independent physician groups, dentists and staff at our local Free Health Clinic in an effort to inoculate as many medical professionals in our community as quickly as possible so they can continue caring for you safely and without further interruption.
"In the meantime, we ask for the public’s patience," she added. "When have confirmation that it’s on the way, we will announce to local media and on social media that we have opened scheduling at noch.org for those who are eligible to make appointments."