MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is criticizing the state’s vaccination efforts saying it’s leaving the most vulnerable behind and setting up county health departments for failure.
The latest state vaccine dashboard numbers show more than 1,028,000 doses administered across Michigan. That’s about 26,000 more than on Monday.
Hackel says those numbers are a distraction from an important issue – that seniors are getting left behind.
“True leadership is realizing we are not going down the right path,” Hackel said.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is challenging state leaders to change course with vaccinations until supply increases.
“This is not just Macomb County, it’s statewide," he said. "Everyone’s having the same problem. There’s not a supply available.”
He added, “We have a limited amount of doses. You would think the simplest solution would be to focus on our seniors. When more doses come in, then we can start opening up to other categories, but they’re being left behind and that’s the biggest concern I have right now."
Macomb County received their largest shipment of vaccines this week. It was over 7,000 doses and they are grateful, but it’s still not close to being enough.
More than 150,000 people in the county are over the age of 65, competing for vaccines with thousands in other categories deemed eligible by the state.
Many seniors can’t get appointments and they are frustrated.
“They keep calling and texting, I see them in public and I have to continuously explain to them this problem that we are facing. And they just don’t understand and quite frankly neither to do I,” Hackel said.
Hackel believes vaccines should go to those 75 and older and those 65 and older with compromised immune systems, until supply increases.
“If we all knew the targeted group was going to be seniors we would all be participating,” says Hackel about focusing efforts.
With the demand being so much greater than the supply, Hackel said it has lead to chaos and frustration.
“There is no statewide strategy," he said. "I don’t care what they say, everybody is doing something different and it's creating incredible tension. The state kept talking about how there was no national strategy before, now, if you look across this state Detroit is doing something different, they are doing postal workers, Wayne County is doing an allotment just for teachers."
In Wayne County, there are 200,000 people over the age of 65.
Wayne County’s Chief Health Strategist Mouhanad Hammami says they also have 14,000 health care workers left to vaccinate along with 20,000 teachers. They received 8,300 vaccine doses this week, choosing to focus on teachers because of the governor's push to have schools return to in-person instruction in March. While still chipping away at the long list of others waiting on vaccines.
In Macomb County, the online vaccination appointments filled up in about 15 minutes this week while thousands of angry calls and emails are flooding the health department each week from people told they are eligible but not able to get an appointment after repeated attempts.
Hackel says the only health department not dealing with this is the state’s.
“They don’t take one phone call, not for one person to get vaccinated," he said. "So they don’t truly understand the dilemma they’ve created for health departments around the state. If they opened it up and started taking phone calls and emails then maybe they would understand what they’ve done to health departments across the state and the challenge they created for seniors as well."
“If I could in Macomb County say all of our doses are going to be targeted towards seniors I would do that, but unfortunately the state won’t allow me to do that,” Hackel said.
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