Expanded Vaccination Eligibility & Covid Impact Explained

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Now that anyone in Michigan 16 years or older can get vaccinated, the question becomes: can you get it? The short answer is eventually, yes. But when you get vaccinated will depend on how quickly you can get on the list and what the condition of actual supplies is.

“We’re continuing to get between 5,000 and 7,000 doses. We’ve been putting out new appointment availability on Fridays and early on Mondays. Those appointments only lasted a few minutes. So we put out several hundred at those times,” Washtenaw County Health Department Spokeswoman Susan Ringler-Cerniglia said. Although she acknowledged she couldn’t quantify those numbers, they are remaining high.

Washtenaw County Health has two main centers – one at Eastern Michigan University and one in Chelsea. The U of M Health system is operating out of the Big House, a massive new vaccination effort is underway at Ford Field and there are multiple pharmacies with vaccination operations. A full list of locations is available at the WCHD website.

There are so many venues now that it made it so difficult to keep track of who is and isn’t on the waiting lists that the county stopped several weeks ago. But since you cannot get vaccinated without an appointment, it is still important to do everything possible to make one with one provider or another.

The county is still reporting supply issues, but they have been improving a bit in the last few months. The best time to sign up is on Friday or Monday, as the county finds out how much vaccine they are going to get on a week by week basis. Now that anyone of any condition 16 and older can get on the schedule, it is now even more a question of how determined you are to get on the list. The name of the game will be to keep checking all available vaccination venues until you get on the list.

After dropping steadily throughout February, cases
in Washtenaw County spiked up again, from a low of 239 cases in the week of March 6 to 864 confirmed cases by the end of the month. The problem is that cases have been going up recently; and so have new variants. Bay County was the first authority in Michigan to report a case of the Brazilian variant at the beginning of the month. Vaccines are still the best way of fighting the pandemic.

“I think the biggest development since the end of March is that the cases, hospitalization and deaths have started to trend back up. The presence of the variant is one of the possible explanation for the variance. But we can’t say that that’s related to fewer restrictions and people doing more things. I would say variant is one of the possible reasons for the increase in cases, but not necessarily the only one.” Ringler-Cerniglia said.

It is difficult to track how the new variants are spreading in real time, as it can take weeks to identify which variant is behind which positive case. Health experts have been advising for months that the most important things to do, in addition to getting vaccinated as quickly as possible, is to wear a mask, socially distant and frequently wash your hands, even after you have been vaccinated.

“We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of Covid-19,” the Centers for Disease Control is telling people who have been vaccinated on their website. The CDC is also recommending that people avoid crowds, wear a mask and stay six feet from others “until we know more” about how and if people who have been vaccinated can still spread the disease.

Even if you get vaccinated, it won’t be fully effective until two weeks after the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you have signed on to several different waiting lists and get vaccinated outside of the WCHD system, then you can de-register yourself through a link in your application email. If that link does not work, you can contact the WCHD directly at 734.544.6700; or at l-wchdcontact@washtenaw.org. By doing this, you can increase the overall efficiency of the system by eliminating gaps in the schedule from no shows, thereby accelerating the rate of vaccination across the entire county.

Washtenaw County has frequently been one of the major hot spots of the 702,499 cases that have been confirmed in Michigan. Washtenaw County has confirmed 19,365 cases and had an additional 2,005 probable cases as of last Friday. Different zip codes have different populations of course, which can be seen in a zip-code specific map
on the WCHD website. So to put this in context, Grigoris Argeros, a sociologist from Eastern Michigan University arranged the numbers per 100,000 residents.

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Graph credit: Grigoris Argeros, PhD. Associate Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University.

“The [column] that says ‘cases P10K’ and last week’s ‘per 10k’ is what we call the per capita,” Argeros, said. By ordering the data this way, he was able to “calculate percentage of cases by taking into consideration every zip code’s total population. And usually these per person number is more accurate.”

The zip code covering Saline has had 31.7 confirmed cases per 100,000 in a population of 23,640, according to data sourced from the WCHD. The zip code covering Chelsea had 33.5 per 100,000 among its 12,827 people.

The 15,756 people living within Dexter’s zip code had 40.6 per 100,000 so far. And Manchester had had 23.7 per 100,000 from its 7,585 residents.

The worst hit zip code was 48104, which covers downtown and most of southeastern Ann Arbor. That zip code has recorded 49.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000.

If you do think you may have been exposed, the government is now requiring a 14 day quarantine period.

Headline image credit: Washtenaw County Health Department 

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