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More people get vaccine, pace expected to pick up in coming weeks

Spectrum Health

Local health leaders say they expect the pace of COVID vaccinations to speed up in the coming weeks.

As of Tuesday, 86,626 people had received the first dose of a vaccine in Michigan. But that’s out of nearly 338,000 doses that have been distributed, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.

Some local health leaders say they’ve purposely gone slow in the first weeks, because the virus requires two shots, weeks apart.

“Everything we do in these first three or four weeks is really only half the pace, because everything we’re doing now, we need to double moving forward,” says Nicki Britten, health officer for the Berrien County Health Department.

“Once we start getting into the administration of second doses, we don’t want that to cause us to slow down the pace of the first doses,” Britten said, during an update hosted on Facebook on Wednesday. “So we’ve been trying to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for a pace we can maintain so that we have that long term endurance and are able to really get rolling.”

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association says a “lack of communication” from the federal government over vaccine allocation also contributed to a slower-than-expected rollout of the vaccine in Michigan.

“The lack of certainty about vaccine allocations, timing of those allotments arriving and the process of scheduling thousands of employees for vaccination have all made it challenging to move as quickly as we’d all like,” said MHA spokesperson John Karasinski, in an email to Michigan Radio. “We hope that the order and receipt process, and certainty of allotments, with the federal government improves, which will allow the administering of vaccines to occur more quickly.”

Hospitals continue to administer the vaccine to health care workers in the state. As of Monday, vaccinations beganfor the residents of about 5,000 long-term care facilities in the state.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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