Third COVID vaccine coming to Upper Michigan

The Marquette County Health Department will receive 500 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week or next week.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 3:55 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - After its approval, Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is being distributed by the millions across the country.

According to the state health department, Michigan will receive 82,700 doses with shipments expected to arrive on Wednesday. According to Dr. Bob Lorinser, the medical director for most U.P. counties, Upper Michigan should receive around 3,000 doses. The Marquette County Health Department will receive 500 doses this week or next week.

“What a great vaccine to give the homebound because we only have to go to their house once and they’re completed,” said Dr. Lorinser.

The new vaccine is a big help to health departments. It’s easier to store in freezers.

“The handling of that is easier than Moderna or Pfizer,” said Dr. Lorinser.

Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is coming to the U.P. as the region still doesn’t have enough vaccine to meet demand.

“Whatever vaccine that is offered to you and is available, take it,” said Dr. Lorinser.

Lorinser says the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have vaccinated 35 to 40 percent of Marquette County’s 65 and older population. Currently, about 2,000 remain on a wait list.

“We may run out of people to give the shots to within two to three weeks,” said Dr. Lorinser.

The doctor says health departments will be ready to vaccinate those 16 to 64 years old with pre-existing conditions in two to three weeks. This will put the U.P. significantly ahead of Lower Michigan.

“We’re not going to just keep it in the freezer, we’re gonna give it,” said Dr. Lorinser.

The vaccine making progress as cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue a downward trend.

“Marquette County is 100 fold decreased from our peak, but isn’t it interesting that our rates here are still 10 to 20 times most countries,” said Dr. Lorinser.

But does declining numbers mean Upper Michigan is officially past the worst of virus?

“Unless there is a fourth wave,” said Dr. Lorinser.

The doctor says herd immunity and prevention measures like wearing a mask are the biggest factors behind declining numbers.

“You would hope that this would be the end of it because if heard immunity and immunizations continue to go up we should be looking pretty sweet,” said Dr. Lorinser.

The doctor also says the Marquette County Health Department is preparing to start a “universal registration” process for the vaccine. He expects that to be ready in a couple of weeks.

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