COVID-19 vaccine

Virginia Mason advanced registered nurse practitioner Erin Forsythe loads a syringing with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Amazon Meeting Center in downtown Seattle, Washington, on January 24.

Across much of the country, demand for COVID-19 vaccines far exceed supply. And mid-Michigan is no exception.

Across much of the country, demand for COVID-19 vaccines far exceed supply. And mid-Michigan is no exception.

Local counties receive doses of the vaccines each week, but the number of people signing up for those doses can reach 10 times the number available.

Michigan moved into phase 1B of its vaccination plan weeks ago. But most of those now eligible to receive the vaccine have not been able to get one, and they are not getting any answers on when they can.

Nellie and Gene Vandemark have done their part. They called, signed up on various websites, and waited for their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"How long do we have to wait to hear," Nellie said.

But they still haven't gotten a vaccine.

"It's being ran by people who don't really have their act together, probably from the federal government all the way down," Nellie said.

In fact, the 83 and 85-year-old Essexville residents haven't even gotten a call confirming they're on any list. That's their biggest concern, a lack of communication. When they go onto the health department's website, there's no way to check their place in line.

Joel Strasz with the Bay County Health Department hopes to improve that.

"This is probably the biggest public health undertaking that's ever taken place in Bay County history,” he said. “You know, there's going to be some hiccups as we start to roll this thing out. Hopefully it will get smoother in a short period of time. And in order for that to happen, the supply capacity needs to open up."

The department gets about 4,000 doses each week. But the state only lets them use 1,200 of those for first doses, leaving nearly three-quarters of the supply for second doses.

"We're trying to be flexible as much as we possibly can. I would like to give out as many doses as possible with the anticipation that we will have a steady supply stream of vaccine through the coming weeks, but the state is being pretty adamant they want us to hold back on those second dose allocations," Strasz said.

In time, Strasz hopes to find a way to let people know they are on the list, as well as improve scheduling capabilities.

"She's did everything she knows to do and so far, we don't know if we're on a list or not. And it's kind of discouraging to me," Gene said.

But until then, the Vandemarks will have to sit and wait until they can see their great-grandchildren again.

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