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Michigan expands vaccine eligibility again

Michigan opens vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — State Health officials hope to soon see a bump in the number of people vaccinated in Michigan. Monday, the state opened eligibility to all residents age 16 and older. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the date in mid-March. It comes 2 weeks after the previous expansion on March 22, which opened eligibility to anyone 16 and older with an existing medical condition.

Since then, vaccine clinics around the state have been working hard to meet the demand. Health departments across West Michigan offer varied responses as to whether they’re ready for an increased demand in vaccines

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A spokesperson for the Kent County Health Department says they are ready. Beginning Monday, county-operated clinics will begin giving out vaccines to people 16 and older.  In fact, The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place, which the county partners with, began doing so last week. Kent County is in a good position to meet demand because of a recent increase in vaccine supply.

That is not the case in Ottawa County, where thousands of people, who have been eligible for a while are still on a wait list.

“What we're still focusing on in Ottawa County are going to be the people who are at higher risk, so with chronic conditions. We are still looking at mainly people 50 and older, but also we are working in with some younger groups with chronic conditions along with essential workers who are in higher risk industries so right now it's really about reducing risk for people who may have more severe outcomes with the disease," says Kristina Wieghmink, public information officer for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

She says Ottawa County isn't currently receiving enough vaccine to work through that list, more quickly.

“The great thing we're doing here in Ottawa County is we have that wonderful collaborative work we're doing with the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic, where, you know, many of our county residents are going to Kent County to the Downtown DeVos Clinic,” she said. “You know, through that partnership, we've been able to better reach our goal here in Ottawa County to get our population vaccinated.”

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