Health Department Aims To Expand COVID Vaccinations

The Berrien County Health Department is now scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for those over the age of 65 and people who work in certain high-risk frontline professions. However, spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News that doesn’t mean they have anywhere near an adequate supply to get the shots to everyone. The department is trying to prioritize those who were added to the state’s eligibility list this week.

“The next phase of eligibility here in Michigan includes adults over the age of 65, as well as some essential workers, including first responders, jail and juvenile center workers, homeless shelter workers and childcare providers and educators, pre-K through grade 12,” Conrad said.

Conrad says the Berrien County Health Department is working with Spectrum Health Lakeland to get people signed up for vaccinations as supplies allow. She notes the health department got its second shipment of doses, 975 of them from Pfizer, this week. She adds a move by the federal government to release more doses could have an effect locally.

“It’s a bit of a strategy shift. To release these earmarked second doses now throughout the country will help increase the amount of initial doses that are given to individuals, and we’re very hopeful that there will be enough supply for us to be able to provide those second doses.”

Conrad says those newly released doses will be used both for first doses and second doses. She says getting the vaccine rolled out will take time, but it will speed up once more have been manufactured. Already, the Berrien County Health Department has more than 12,000 people over 65 signed up for its waiting list.