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Health dept. swamped with vaccine requests

ESCANABA — As the state moves into the next phase of its vaccination plan, Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties (PHDM) has been bombarded with phone calls requesting appointments.

The volume of phone calls to PHDM has been monumental since the announcement of the authorization from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to move to Phase 1B, which opens up vaccinations to first responders, school and childcare staff, staff in correctional facilities, workers in homeless shelters, and — following an adjustment to the state’s original vaccination schedule — those age 65 and older. By Friday morning, PHDM had received more than 120,000 phone calls and had been consistently scheduling appointments since Wednesday.

At this time, only those 65 and older are eligible to request an appointment from PHDM.

“Seeing such a strong response from the 65+ population in our community is encouraging, and we are committed to vaccinating all who want to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Michael Snyder, Health Officer. “However, this will take time and patience, we recognize the urgency felt by many, but ask everyone to remain diligent in following preventive measures to battle COVID-19 as we move forward with vaccination efforts for the Phase 1B Priority One group.”

Residents 65 years of age or above can call PHDM at 906-217-8206 or 906-217-8207 to schedule an appointment. No walk-ins are permitted for vaccinations, and individuals must present a valid ID to verify age upon their arrival.

PHDM is also asking anyone who has already called one of the numbers above and left a message, to not continue calling. Message will be returned by a staff member.

PHDM hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PHDM is closed Saturday and Sunday.

Appointments can only be made via phone by calling PHDM, and no appointments are being accepted through messages or post via Facebook or Instagram or any other methods of communication.

The Phase 1B, Priority Two group, which includes first responders, educators, corrections staff and child protective service workers will be contacted and scheduled through their employer for appointments.

The vaccine is limited, and all appointments are contingent upon vaccine availability. Appointments are being made with the assumption vaccine will be received from the state each week. PHDM does not have control over the availability of vaccine.

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