Health department staff, volunteers get vaccinated in preparation for vaccinating others

County health departments wrapped up 2020 by vaccinating their staff against COVID-19 in anticipation of public vaccinations beginning this week.

“This vaccine brings hope as we move to the next phase of the COVID-19 response,” says Allegan County Medical Director Richard Tooker. “There have been over 3,100 individuals living or working in Allegan County who have signed up to receive a vaccine. Knowing this information now will help quickly direct communications to individuals when their phase can start making vaccine appointments.”

Allegan County Health Department staff who will be administering vaccines and supporting upcoming vaccine clinics were among those to receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine last week.

Vaccine clinics for groups in Phase 1A started in the first week of January by appointment only. Phase 1A include health care staff and volunteers who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home. Long-term care facilities residents are also included in the first phase.

Health care workers who have not been vaccinated through a hospital or other organization should complete the “I Want the COVID-19 Vaccine” form found at allegancounty.org/covid. They will receive an email with instructions for making a vaccine appointment.

Phase 1B includes frontline essential workers and those 75 years old or older; Phase 1C includes other essential workers, those 64 to 74, and those 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. Phase 2 is open to anyone 16 years old or older. Vaccines available at this time are not approved for those younger than 16.

It will take several months before there is enough supply to vaccinate everyone, so vaccines are being distributed in phases. To find out where everyone falls on the vaccine prioritization guidance, visit michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine.

Those who do not fall into the Phase 1A category can complete the “I Want the COVID-19 Vaccine” form now at allegancounty.org/covid for Allegan County residents and miottawa.org/Health/OCHD/coronavirus.htm for Ottawa County residents. Once the vaccination phase an individual may be eligible for has begun, their local health department will send an email to the address provided and give instructions for receiving the vaccine.

Allegan County residents with technology or internet barriers may call the ACHD COVID-19 Hotline at 269-686-4546 to provide their information. Ottawa County residents may call 616-396-5266, but they will need to provide an email address to receive notification of eligibility.

At the same time, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is distributing 3.5 million free masks as part of the state’s Mask Up, Mask Right campaign.

Free KN95 masks provided by MDHHS will be distributed by community organizations, including local MDHSS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices.

“We are urging Michiganders to Mask Up and Mask Right to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities from COVID-19,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Wearing the right kind of mask is important. Today’s distribution of effective masks will help more Michiganders limit the spread of COVID to save lives and get back to normal sooner.”

In addition to MDHHS offices, local health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices, the free masks are available from Community Action Agencies, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Some agencies will distribute the masks to local partners such as homeless shelters.

Those who need masks can pick one up from partner sites across the state. Find a distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.
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