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Michiganders head to Ohio for open vaccine appointments

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Though COVID-19 vaccination appointments are becoming more widely available by the day, scheduling a dose can still be a tricky task. Depending on where you live, it might be easier for you to get vaccinated if you cross state lines. Some Southeast Michiganders have gone to get their vaccines in Ohio, where — at the moment — supply seems to be outpacing demand.

Dr. Daniel Cadigan, medical director for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, says he’s not entirely sure why some Michiganders have found it easier to get vaccinated in Ohio than in Michigan. But, he adds, getting shots in arms in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 can be approached as a regional effort.

“We have a large number of individuals from Michigan that work in northwest Ohio and likewise, a number of individuals from northwest Ohio that hold down jobs and have family or live across the border in Michigan,” Cadigan said. “So although this is considered a statewide supply of vaccine, our commissioner has definitely laid out that we are not going to turn people away based upon county or state residence.”

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Cadigan says that earlier in the administration process, around the time when Ohio was working to vaccinate teachers, he was working in a clinic that turned out to have extra doses for the day.

“We realized that there were a number of doses that we would not be using, and when that went out on the health department website — I was there helping out that afternoon — I would estimate that 25% of those extra doses, extra appointments we had available, it was people from Michigan, certainly as far up as Ann Arbor,” he said.

Tosha Davis, a nurse at a vaccine clinic in Lucas County, told Stateside producer Mercedes Mejia that there’s been good turnout at the clinic where she works, with a number of people crossing the state border in order to get vaccinated.

“We have tons of people coming from Michigan. They are saying that they can't find appointments,” Davis said. “I love it that they are coming here to our county.”

Cadigan says as of April 15 that Lucas County has an adequate supply of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Like Michigan, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department has paused Johnson & Johnson doses per U.S. health officials’ recommendations. But Cadigan says holding back the Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t have a big effect on the county’s vaccine process, as it wasn’t a significant part of their supply.

Mejia spoke with one Rochester Hills mother, Amy, and her college-age sons, who went to Ohio to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine prior to its pause.

“We were having difficulty finding what we needed in our local area,” Amy told Mejia. “So we easily found an appointment [in Ohio], and we were able to schedule within just a few days time to come down and get the vaccine.”

Cadigan says the vaccination process isn’t the only regional issue when it comes to COVID-19. He points out that, while Michigan is currently fighting a surge in COVID-19 cases, parts of Ohio — including Lucas County — are also facing increasing case rates. And, farther up the I-75 corridor, Ontario is also experiencing soaring cases and hospitalizations.

“So, as trade has always come along the I-75 corridor out of Ontario and through Michigan into Ohio, then certainly variants of COVID travel the same sort of way,” Cadigan said.

Cadigan says it’s important to continue following public health precautions to prevent the spread of the virus — even if you’re tired of doing so.

“We still have to have an air of caution,” he said. “Patience is the big thing right now, and patience is a virtue. And I think we all need to be virtuous in that regard.”

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Nell Ovitt.

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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