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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Area providers experiencing shortened COVID-19 waitlists; more vaccines coming soon

BARAGA, GOGEBIC, HOUGHTON, KEWEENAW and ONTONAGON COUNTIES -- As the vaccine supply coming into the area becomes more reliable, providers in the Western Upper Peninsula are seeing a decline in the demand for appointments from those age 65 and older.

"We are beginning to see gaps in our appointment schedules for the 65 and older group," said Kate Beer, Health Officer for the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD). "Providers across the district are struggling to fill clinics at the last minute. If you have held off on scheduling your appointment, now is the time to call."

Residents can visit to locate a provider in their area. Those without computer access should call 211 for assistance in scheduling an appointment.

Community partners are also working on a plan to provide mobile vaccinations to those who have difficulty obtaining transportation or are homebound. One option is the newly approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

"We have confirmation that at least 700 doses of the new vaccine will be shipped to our area within the next several days. It will be a useful tool in vaccinating homebound residents and those with limited transportation options," continued Beer. "Unlike the other brands currently available, it requires only one dose and is easier to store and handle."

Michigan is currently in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination effort. Phase 1B includes residents age 65 and older and some frontline essential workers. Vaccination opened up this week for workers in the food processing industry. WUPHD anticipates that additional age groups and essential worker categories will be added as early as next week.

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