Southwest Michigan’s COVID vaccinations surpass number of positive cases

Southwest Michigan has officially administered more vaccinations than its number of COVID-19 cases, a trend in line with the rest of the United States.

According to Bloomberg News, the number of people vaccinated exceeded the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on Monday. This is an early milestone since the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Washington state on January 21, 2020, with March 10, 2020 marking the first confirmed case in Michigan. There have been 51,132 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southwest Michigan since then. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) COVID Data Tracker indicates Michigan is 8th in the country in vaccine distribution, having administered 1,127,787 vaccines as of February 4. During the same time period there have been 84,700 vaccines administered to people in Southwest Michigan, according to data from the State of Michigan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard. The demand for the vaccine is higher than its availability, but in an effort to increase access, the federal government has started to distribute vaccines to pharmacies including Meijer, CVS, and Walgreens.

Southwest Michigan health departments, one of the primary sources for receiving the vaccine, have been working hard to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their communities. 

“We have a wonderful group of people who have stepped up in our community to volunteer. We couldn’t do it without the help and assistance of our volunteers,” said Rebecca Burns, Health Officer for Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency.

Burns said there is a higher need than availability for vaccines in the health department’s service area, much like other communities. She said the agency has been successful in using all of the perishable vaccine doses at their clinics so far, and they anticipate receiving more vaccines next week. 

When asked about potential barriers to receiving the vaccines, she immediately said, “The weather.” While today’s vaccination clinic at Glen Oaks Community College is still scheduled, there are safety concerns with travel, especially for seniors, according to Burns.

Information on the COVID-19 vaccine and community vaccination programs can be found on county health department websites

Cortney Jebelian is a writer for Watershed Voice and a licensed professional counselor in Kalamazoo, Michigan.