Some UP Health Departments ask state to send less vaccine

Health departments are running into a new COVID-19 vaccine issue: plenty of vaccine, but not enough people who want it
Michigan COVID-19 vaccine graphic.
Michigan COVID-19 vaccine graphic.(WLUC)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 2:16 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - Health departments are running into a new COVID-19 vaccine issue: plenty of vaccine, but not enough people who want it.

“We are well stocked and ready to vaccinate,” said Kerry Ott, LMAS District Health Department Public Information Officer.

“No one is at fault except for us. The demand is not there,” said Dr. Bob Lorinser, Marquette County Medical Director.

Now, health departments are searching to find people who do want the vaccine.

Right now, only three U.P. counties (Alger, Marquette and Ontonagon) have more than half their population with at least one dose. Far below the state’s goal of 70 percent.

“Either people aren’t paying attention, or they just aren’t interested,” said Lorinser.

It’s not just Upper Michigan that is having this problem, health departments throughout the state are struggling.

“Some health departments throughout the state went knocking on doors,” said Lorinser.

While the Marquette County Health Department will not be doing this, it is considering different options like new locations for vaccination clinics and drive-through testing.

“We’re trying to do anything we can to see if we still need the vaccine,” said Lorinser.

Dr. Lorinser says MCHD will consider telling the state to send less vaccine as early as this week as other health departments already have.

“We have actually twice had the state not send us our allocation because we knew there were places downstate that could use it immediately,” said Ott.

The LMAS District Health Department has 1,700 first-dose shots available. While Marquette County has a thousand appointments open this week.

“All the options are there, we just got to get the arms to put them in,” said Lorinser.

Dr. Lorinser now wonders if increased hesitancy is because of the CDC’s recommendation to pause the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after a rare blood clot was found in six people. Nearly seven million doses of the vaccine had been given.

“There is nothing, nothing that I know that is 100 percent safe or 100 percent dangerous,” said Lorinser. “I think the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was unfortunate.”

Others say, safety measures worked.

“We do know the system worked because we identified that quickly at the federal level and paused those vaccines immediately,” said Ott.

Regardless, Dr. Lorinser says many are still vaccine hesitant. He wonders if it is a messaging issue.

“The recommendations change all the time,” said Lorinser. “Quarantine is up, it’s down, it’s around the corner. Testing is this and vaccines are that. My goodness. The message is too complex.”

Dr. Lorinser says the message should stay the same and simple.

“The message is wear a mask, stay farther away from other people. That’s basically the whole message,” said Lorinser. “Why don’t we just stay with the simple message?”

For anyone over the age of 16 who does want a free COVID-19 vaccine near you, click here.

Copyright 2021 WLUC. All rights reserved.