Bay Co. urges patience amid preparations to vaccinate seniors, critical infrastructure

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 10:43 PM EST
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BAY CO., Mich. (WJRT) (1/7/2021)--Diving deeper into a major development in the fight against COVID-19: starting Monday, every Michigander 65 and up will qualify to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

ABC12 sat down with the Bay County Health Department and Midland Senior Services to break the process down.

“We’re going to be kind of the tip of the spear as far as providing vaccinations.”

At-risk seniors account for one in five people who call Bay County home. The health department will have its work cut out trying to get as many shots into as many arms as it can.

“There has been quite a bit of demand for the vaccine,” Bay County Health Officer Joel Strasz explained. “We can attest to that. We get calls constantly.”

But distribution of the vaccines that made their debut late last year has been spotty at best across the 50 states with Michigan ranking near the bottom.

“You’ve got… 45 health departments doing 45 different strategies,” Strasz said.

Chock clogged phone lines into the mix, jammed when locals bought into a bogus claim on social media.

“It crashed the phone system here in Bay City,” Strasz related. “That’s how much demand there is. People want to go back to life as normal.”

“We will get real information out,” Charlie Schwebler explained. “Don’t trust anything that doesn’t come from a very, very trusted source.”

Senior Services of Midland County connects older residents with resources. In this case, that entails disseminating critical information.

“Believe you me, we have been getting phone calls. Folks are ready. We have folks that are ready and frankly, we’re ready too.”

Schwebler, the organization’s executive director, will personally speed that effort along, working hand-in-hand with the Midland County Health Department.

“We have some things in the works we’re really excited about,” he said.

Over 80-percent of coronavirus deaths statewide have occurred in the 65 and older crowd. The change enables Michigan’s 83 counties to begin the process of vaccinating and insulating them against that risk.

Strasz said more than 1000 locals had already signed up to receive their first doses.

“Hopefully, we’ll be getting more every week and I think that’s what the goal is,” he related.

Seniors 65 and older and critical infrastructure workers can add their names to the list on the Bay County Health Department’s website.

“We don’t want people calling the health department… until we have a good, viable phone system in place to take care of that,” Strasz urged. “I understand people are anxious to get the vaccine and want to be vaccinated, but just be patient with us.”

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