More than half of Kent County residents ages 65 and older are partially vaccinated

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – As counties across the state prepare to raise eligibility for vaccinations, Kent County’s health officials have reached a milestone: More than half of residents 65 and over have been partially vaccinated.

Kent County’s Department of Health spokesman Steve Kelso said Thursday March 4th that at least 55.9% of all county’s residents aged 65 and over have received at least one dose.

About half of these residents, or 27.9% of them, received full two-dose therapy.

About 92,630 of the county’s 656,955 residents are aged 65 or older, according to estimates by the US Census Bureau.

Read more: Frustration is high among West Michigan seniors awaiting COVID-19 vaccine nomination

In total, around 110,000 residents of the district received a first dose, and around 68,000 more received a second dose, according to health data.

Approximately 21% of the county’s population who are 18 years of age or older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

The news comes as state health officials announced this week that vaccination eligibility will open on Monday, March 8, for residents ages 50 to 64 with pre-existing conditions.

Later that month, March 22nd, eligibility is open to anyone aged 50 to 64.

Eligibility to vaccinate is currently restricted to healthcare workers, long-term care workers and residents, key workers and first aiders, and residents aged 65 and over.

Kelso said “many people” in these approval categories are yet to be vaccinated in the county.

Regarding the number of people currently eligible to be vaccinated, Kelso says the department has no available estimates as much of the eligibility is based on occupation rather than age, which is easier to understand is.

While the state and county attempt to vaccinate those 50 to 64 year olds, health officials will continue to prioritize vaccination in the previous approval stages, according to Kelso.

The same will happen, he said, if the eligibility goes beyond the 50- to 64-year-old group.

Kelso again urged patience as health workers try to vaccinate as many as possible with vaccine supplies that are well below demand and the health workers ability to embrace them.

“We will reach you and we will reach you as soon as possible,” said Kelso.

The vaccine supply has slowly increased since the beginning of the effort in December. Often times, the county is unsure of how much vaccine they will be given until the Friday before the week they are given it.

While it can take days or weeks to get a vaccination appointment after registering, Kelso encouraged attendees to register as soon as they are eligible so they can keep standing in line.

Residents have various options for registering for the vaccination. They can be found here.

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