State changes may mean less first dose COVID-19 vaccines for rural counties

The state’s new vaccine distribution policy is causing uncertainty in rural counties across the Upper Peninsula.

If demand for the vaccine continues to outweigh supply, county officials are unable to predict how many first doses they will get each week.

MCHD Health Officer Jerry Messana, told the Marquette County Board of Health that individual health departments will no longer be able to order a weekly amount of  first dose vaccines from the state.

“So in the past we would get a Survey Monkey and we would say how many doses of first vaccines, how many doses of second vaccines,” Messana said. “Now the only thing that we have to request, or we can request, is second dose vaccines. First dose vaccines are going to be allocated based on a formula that the state has come up with and I have some details of that, but not all of the details.”

The number of vaccines allocated to each county will be based on four key factors:

  • Overall county population and number of people over 65.
  • A state estimate of the number of essential workers such as prison staff, police and fire.
  • The number of inpatient hospital beds
  • And a CDC vulnerability index

“At this point in time I don’t even want to venture a guess at what that means in terms of numbers to the health department,” Messana said.

He said the hospitals will also be getting an allotment of doses.

Local officials are working to gain access to the formula the state will use for allocation to determine how many doses the county will receive on a weekly basis.

As of Wednesday, 4,365  Marquette County residents had preregistered for the vaccine.

This week marks a total of 3,000 shots in arms, he said.