The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is encouraging everyone 16 and older to register to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
According to the health department, which serves Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties, clinic appointments will be available beginning next week for area residents aged 16 and over.
“We we continue to prioritize people 50 and older, high-risk populations and essential front-line workers, but we really want to encourage everyone — and I mean everyone — to pre-register starting now for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Lisa Peacock, health officer with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
“If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, now is the time to sign up.”
According to the health department’s COVID-19 vaccination data dashboard, as of March 23 a total of 50,710 doses have been administered to residents of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.
Of that number, 26,357 have been administered by the local health department.
As the number of local cases, outbreaks and hospitalizations continues to rise because of COVID-19, Peacock stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
An alarming trend is the emerging hospitalization rates in Michigan among younger people, a group with the lowest vaccination rates among the state’s population, according to inpatient data by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
According to the group, from March 1 through Tuesday of this week, hospitalizations increased by 633% for those aged 30-39 and by 800% for those aged 40-49.
According to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, COVID-19 cases in Michigan among children ages 10-19 have risen 133% in the last four days, which is faster than any other age group.
Through Thursday of this week, of the Health Department of Northwest Michigan’s 702 COVID-19 cases which have been reported in it’s jurisdiction, 148 cases, or 21%, were individuals aged 13-19.
Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director for the health department, said last week a rising number of cases have been related to the school-aged population and several outbreaks have been related to athletic teams.
“We’ve also seen some spread in just social gatherings or friends and groups of children in other groups as well,” Meyerson said. “It’s not just all athletics, but certainly we’re seeing a lot of spread, especially at the high school age group.”
Data from Munson Healthcare is showing as of March 26 a total of 63 patients are currently in a Munson hospital, including 31 at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, 14 at each the Cadillac and Grayling hospitals, three at Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, one at the Manistee hospital and none at the Charlevoix hospital.
A McLaren Northern Michigan official said there has been a steady increase in patient numbers over the past few weeks. As of Friday morning there were 13 patients in the hospital’s isolation unit as a result of COVID-19. Earlier this month, that number was three.
As of March 23, there were two reported patients hospitalized in Chippewa County according to the Chippewa County Health Department.
“We can get vaccinated,” Peacock said. “And, if we have done that already, then we can share our knowledge and experience with family and friends who may be hesitant. We can assist someone to schedule an appointment or offer them a ride so they can get their vaccination. We can remind everyone of the freedoms that come with being vaccinated, such as being able to gather in homes without a mask and not having to quarantine.”
Peacock said widespread vaccination coverage in the region is the key to driving the virus down.
On Thursday, the health department reported 45 new cases of COVID-19 including 15 in Antrim, two in Charlevoix, 10 in Emmet and 18 in Otsego County.
Additionally, Emmet County EMS announced it has begun offering COVID-19 vaccinations to elderly and homebound populations of Emmet County. The service is intended only for individuals unable to travel to an established vaccination location.
EMS office staff are now scheduling appointments for home visits in which the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination shot will be given. EMS paramedics will not show up to a residence in an ambulance, but in another fully-equipped vehicle.
Paramedics will be prepared to provide medical service immediately in the rare event of an adverse reaction to the shot and would dispatch an ambulance only in the event one is needed for transporting a patient to the hospital.
Those who are homebound, or otherwise unable to travel but want to be vaccinated, should call the Emmet County EMS office at (231) 776-1000 to schedule an appointment.
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