Nearly 100,000 seniors vaccinated in Macomb County as COVID-19 eligibility groups continue to expand

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 18, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — Two new eligibility groups are now being provided access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On March 13, the Macomb County Health Department announced the newest priority groups, following consultation with federal guidelines, state protocols and local advocacy groups.

One group includes individuals 16 years and older who have disabilities and/or medical conditions, as well as their caregiver family members and guardians.

The other pertains to lawyer guardian ad litem, guardians and conservators required by statute to visit and those who are actively visiting wards. This priority group also includes attorneys who are required to attend in-person legal proceedings and may work in close proximity with others when virtual proceedings are not an option.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked with public health experts and community advocates to develop the most responsive and equitable vaccine strategy for our community,” said Macomb County Health Officer Andrew Cox in a statement. “This is the next step to ensure all vulnerable population groups can have safe access to the vaccine right here at home.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said that the county’s senior population has been used as the “gauge” throughout the pandemic, referring to how the senior population has accounted for the vast majority of deaths related to coronavirus.

On March 15, he said upwards of 100,000 seniors, or about 61% of the senior population, had been vaccinated. That has been accomplished by the county working with SMART for transportation, as well as working with hospitals, pharmacies and stores such as Meijer.

“We understand there may be other occupations and age groups that want (vaccine) access or were given access already,” Hackel said, making an appeal to the public to continue to let the county’s most vulnerable citizens get vaccinated first.

He added that the county is looking for a “saturation point” of sorts for how many seniors will ultimately receive the vaccination, estimated at between 65% and 70%.

Hackel has talked to Macomb ISD Superintendent Michael DeVault since the pandemic’s onset, in terms of testing, personal protective equipment and vaccinations. Teachers and public safety personnel remain high priorities for inoculation moving forward.

On Monday, March 22, the state is expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 50 and older.

Then, starting Monday, April 5, the state is allowing all Michiganders who were not previously eligible to begin receiving vaccines to schedule appointments.

Locally, a 24-7 scheduling system accessed via a website has worked out “rather well,” Hackel said.

“We think we may be in a better position to open (vaccinations) sooner than that (April 5). … We are very comfortable where we’re heading and think we’re going to be able to add more vaccines to the extent we can,” he said.

When asked whether the federal vaccine push prioritized by President Joe Biden has caused any specific local changes or advancements in doses and/or distribution, Hackel said the county has maintained its course since day one: targeting specific population groups, working with hospital systems and listening to local and national health experts.

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