As Michigan COVID Vaccination Rates Decline, Pop-Up Clinics, Casino Money Appear

More than 3.7 million Michigan residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But there are huge disparities between regions. Over 57% of people aged 16 or older in Grand Traverse, Emmet and Leelanau counties received their first dose, while 26 other counties have rates below 40%, suggesting that for many people , the problem is not the vaccine supply. but their desire to get a hit.

Dr Bobby Mukkamala, a Flint-based ear, nose and throat specialist and president of the Michigan State Medical Society, helped the Genesee County Department of Health deliver vaccines to mass vaccination sites .

At first, a mass vaccination clinic with appointments for 1,300 people would attract as many and more.

But on a recent Saturday, he said, “we had the capacity to do 1,300, and we ended up doing about 800.”

And when he arrived at a little church clinic recently, “everybody was sort of sitting around. No one was really doing vaccinations.

Mukkamala opened his Facebook page: We have additional vaccines, he posted.

“We have maybe 20 more people coming,” he said. “If I had done the exact same thing in January, my phone would have exploded, and everyone and their brother would have shown up.

All of this means that Michigan now needs to get more creative.

As of Wednesday, 31.5% of the state had been fully immunized, well below the target of 70%. The state ranks 27th for the percentage of people fully immunized.

State health officials are working on plans to address the hesitation and have already reached out to some communities to answer questions about vaccines, said Lynn Sutfin, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. .

Sutfin said other campaigns are also in the works, including some leveraging social media apps like Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat in an effort to reach out to the state’s youngest residents. Sutfin has not specified when these campaigns will be ready.

The state is also working to reach other hard-to-reach populations, including home-confined and more transient groups such as farm workers and the homeless, she said.

Admittedly, the craze for vaccines has not waned everywhere.

Oakland County officials continue to work on a waiting list of more than 150,000 people, said health official Leigh-Anne Stafford of the Oakland County Health Division. As of Tuesday morning, more than one in three county residents – 347,710 – had received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Residents who previously took a “wait and see” approach continue to enroll now that they have seen family and friends get vaccinated without serious effects, Stafford said.

In some Michigan communities, the shift to smaller sites – with plans to create more – is well underway.

Here are some of their efforts and ideas.

Doctors’ offices

Doctors’ offices are familiar and their staff are more trusted, Mukkamala said, echoing the findings of U.S. public inquiries.

He ordered 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine to give to patients in his practice in Flint and to patients next door, where his wife, Dr Nita Mukkamala, is an obstetrician-gynecologist.

It is all necessary, but it takes time to reach those who are not ready to roll up their sleeves in a mass vaccination clinic, he said.

“Most of the time, people want their doctor’s opinion and that requires a conversation,” he said. “That’s why we do, you know, a dozen a week in my office. Months ago, if I had to open it for this, we would do hundreds a week.

Emergency services

Some Michigan hospital systems have started discussing the supply of vaccines in emergency rooms, said Dr. Mustafa “Mark” Hamed, medical director of the emergency department at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky, and medical director of emergency rooms. health center covering eight counties in Michigan stretching from Michigan’s Thumb to the Northeast.

Emergency rooms are another avenue, he said, to reach those without primary care doctors.

Vaccines would be offered on a case-by-case basis, but certainly not for life-threatening emergencies when minutes count. Instead, stabilized patients could be offered a vaccine upon discharge, he said. They would just wait the extra 15 minutes or so for the sighting, he said.

Likewise, Hamed said, emergency medical teams could also have a stockpile of vaccines.

This would work particularly well in rural areas, he said, where crews provide “paramedicine“, in which they help local health during non-emergency routine visits – by giving oxygen to a patient with COPD, for example.

However, many plans to reach hard-to-reach areas had to be put on hold when the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine was suspended after reports of rare cases of blood clots forming, Hamed said.

Employee incentives

It’s not just about taking care of your staff; It’s about keeping the workday uninterrupted, so Michigan employers began discussing offering vaccine incentives to employees earlier this year, Wendy Block, vice president of corporate advocacy, told lawmakers. and member engagement for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce in February.

She told Bridge Michigan at the time that the companies had not yet moved forward with the plans.

It could change.

In Ludington, Floracraft will convert a training room into a half-day vaccination clinic for employees and family members next week.

To increase the stake, the maker of craft and floral foam is offering $ 50 gift cards to one of the estimated 225 employees who get vaccinated at the clinic, said James Morkert, director of human resources at Floracraft.

Many employees already have their vaccine and they are also eligible for a gift card, he said. But others have been hesitant, and their personal and professional lives mean they’re busy, too.

“We hope that the people who are now on the fence will see that ‘it’s here’ and ‘it’s easy’,” he said.

Casinos, hotels, shops?

Partnerships with local businesses are essential, said Oleniczak, health manager for the 10 central Michigan counties.

The Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, in collaboration with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Munson HealthCare, will offer vaccines next week for employees and visitors.

To sweeten the deal, the casino is offering $ 10 free play to those who get vaccinated.

And the Double JJ Resort in Rothbury will open as a vaccination site next week, so public health nurses can provide staff, family members and guests with vaccines, Oleniczak said.

They will receive at least a first dose, she said, before the tourist season begins on Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile, health service trainees are trained to interview people in dollar stores, pantries, and laundromats about their interest in a vaccine. If they do not have Internet access, trainees can help them organize themselves on site.

Or, if clients aren’t interested, interns can glean information on what might change their mind.

All of this is individual ground-level work to better understand how to reach the hesitant Michiganders, Oleniczak said.

“It’s really a survey to find out, ‘What do you think it would take to encourage people to get vaccinated?’ and “If we had one here in your community, would you think people would come?” »», She declared.

High school clinics

Some health services are working with local high schools, again leveraging the idea of ​​making vaccines more convenient.

Working with Rural Kingsley High School, south of Traverse City, on Thursday, public health nurses were to offer the Pfizer vaccine – the only one of three approved COVID vaccines allowed for 16 and 17 year olds.

They are running against a school calendar. Individuals should wait three weeks before receiving a second dose.

Superintendent Keith Smith said public health officials naturally made vaccines available earlier this year where they could donate the most – in Traverse City and other cities, he said.

But now they’re reaching dormitory communities like Kingsley, Smith said, and it’s the school district’s “responsibility” to help make vaccines available as soon as possible.

Obligatory? May be later.

While some colleges and universities are requiring or planning to begin requiring vaccines among students who live on campus in the fall, employers have so far not mandated vaccines. This includes hospitals that need staff to get other vaccines, such as the flu.

“When it started, there was not enough vaccine (COVID) for everyone,” Dr Christine Nefcy, chief medical officer at Munson Healthcare, noted this week at a press conference.

“It would have been inappropriate for us to demand something that we didn’t have enough of,” she said.

Additionally, approved COVID-19 vaccines are still not fully approved by federal regulators; instead, it was the United States Food and Drug Agency that gave the three vaccines “emergency use authorization” during a pandemic and after less than a year of clinical trials.

This places any vaccine mandate on precarious legal ground, said Nefcy and others.

Yet, as stocks increase and vaccines gain full FDA approval, school or job mandates “may be the realm of possibility” for some employers or schools in the future. Benzie health manager Lisa Peacock said. Leelanau District Health Department and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.