Jan. 12 in Macomb County marked one of the first day’s the public could sign up for an appointment to receive the first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the county requested 50,000 vaccines from the state and learned Jan. 11 it would receive 3,900 vaccines. Andrew Cox, of the Macomb County Health Department, is pictured with ultra-cold freezers used for vaccine storage.

Jan. 12 in Macomb County marked one of the first day’s the public could sign up for an appointment to receive the first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the county requested 50,000 vaccines from the state and learned Jan. 11 it would receive 3,900 vaccines. Andrew Cox, of the Macomb County Health Department, is pictured with ultra-cold freezers used for vaccine storage.

File photo by Deb Jacques


High demand causes fewer vaccination appointments in Macomb County

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published January 21, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — The demand for a COVID-19 vaccine in Macomb County far exceeds the supply of doses received from the state of Michigan.

Jan. 12 in Macomb County marked one of the first days the public could sign up for an appointment to receive the first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

When asked to assess how it went, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel classified it as “incredibly challenging.”

A Jan. 12 message on Macomb County’s website stated that the county had exhausted its supply of vaccines and is unable to make new appointments at this time.

“We will open new appointments when we receive our next allocation from the state of Michigan,” the message states.

By 9:15 a.m. Jan. 19, when trying to make an appointment, a message stated that the scheduler is currently booked full for the week.

Appointments are available to those who live or work in Macomb County.

Hackel said the county requested 50,000 vaccines from the state and learned Jan. 11 that it would receive 3,900 vaccines.  

“That was woefully inadequate for the demand that was created,” Hackel said.

The county indicates the ability to be vaccinated is based on eligibility guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Hackel said the state got ahead of messaging with vaccine rollout and noted that Michigan should’ve had enough supply before opening it up to a higher demand.

As of mid-January, the following people were eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in Macomb County: healthcare workers, residents over the age of 65, school employees, law enforcement and correctional officers, childcare workers, homeless shelter workers, and all municipal employees.

“Following science, data, and CDC guidelines, it would’ve only created an opportunity for those 65 and older,” Hackel said. “That’s what we should’ve targeted.”

He added that no one from the state seems to have an answer as to why it opened up vaccination scheduling to other categories of individuals, forcing senior citizens to “compete” with other people to receive a vaccine.  

On Jan. 12, Emily Jedrek, of Macomb Township, secured an appointment for her 87-year-old grandmother and her father, a first responder, to be vaccinated, using the Macomb County website. The two were vaccinated Jan. 16.

“I expected it to be slow, just because the demand is so high,” Jedrek said. “I was calling on two phones, and my grandma on one, and we couldn’t get through on three different lines. It was more frustrating than I thought.”

They began calling at 8:30 a.m., as soon as appointments could be made. Between her two phones, Jedrek called about 100 times.

Online, she said 30 seconds after the website went live, it crashed. It took about 35 minutes for Jedrek to get through online and make one appointment.

“My grandma was pretty relieved to get an appointment because she worried she wasn’t going to get one,” Jedrek said.

Hackel said that by opening up who could receive a vaccine now, it created a situation where an incredible limited number of supply is available to an extraordinary number of people who have an expectation that those who want to be vaccinated can, in fact, be vaccinated.

For the online and phone system, Hackel anticipated there would be issues.

“We were continuously able to schedule people, but the way the system is setup, if too many people call a phone line, they’re going to get a variety of messages,” he said.

Hackel indicated that, in the foreseeable future, it will be a weekly process of opening up the system for folks to try scheduling a vaccination appointment.

People are asked to bring a photo identification card and, if applicable, proof of occupation like a badge or employee identification card, and a completed COVID-19 vaccine administration form.

In Macomb County, folks may receive the vaccine at the Verkuilen Building, entrance C, located at 21885 Dunham Road in Clinton Township.

“People must have the appointment and are not going to jump the line,” Hackel said. “They will get turned away.”

Within minutes of making an appointment, one should receive a confirmation text and email with a calendar appointment attached. In addition, folks will receive a phone call reminder the day before the appointment.

For those returning for their second vaccine dose, they are asked to bring a COVID-19 vaccination record card.

“The health department will call them to make an appointment for their second vaccination,” Hackel said.  

The county reminds individuals that only the person being vaccinated will be allowed in the building to maintain safe social distancing. Exceptions will be made for a family member or caregiver to accompany someone who needs assistance getting into the building. Face masks are required to be worn inside the building.

For more information on the vaccination process, visit macombgov.org/covid19-COVID19VaccineCentral.

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