The Lapeer County Health Department was recently authorized to purchase equipment that will allow them to host off-site testing and immunization clinics.

Grant funds used to purchase freezer, off-site clinic needs

LAPEER COUNTY — Although many details are yet to be determined, the picture is becoming clearer as to how a COVID-19 vaccine will be administered locally.

At Thursday’s county commission meeting, Health Department Director Kathy Haskins laid out their plans for getting residents immunized and detailing the equipment they’ll need to purchase to help make that happen.

“The information is coming fast and hard,” Haskins said.

“We don’t know how much we’re going to get but we are registered with the state and ready to go.”

What she does know is that the Moderna vaccine is their department’s preferred choice due to storage requirements. The Pfizer-BioNTech version received emergency use authorization last week while Moderna is expected to get the same authorization this week.

“It just wasn’t cost effective to go with Pfizer,” Haskins said, noting several reasons, including the need to purchase a specialized freezer to keep the Pfizer vaccine at extremely cold temperatures.

Haskins said that hospitals will be vaccinating their own staff and the state has contracted with pharmacies to handle vaccinations within long term care facilities. Her staff has been checking with doctor’s offices and pharmacies to determine their plans or needs.

Healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents will be some of the first people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, followed by those 65 years old and older and those with underlying health conditions. Hospital staff in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor were some of the first people in Michigan to be immunized on Monday, Dec. 14.

When the time comes to offer the vaccine on a larger scale, the health department wants to ensure they’re properly equipped. On Thursday, county commissioners authorized the health department to utilize state grant dollars to purchase neccessary items for off-site testing and vaccination clinics including a pickup truck and trailer, tents, multiple procedure and storage carts, a variable message sign and a vaccine freezer.

The purchases come at no cost to the county general fund and Haskins notes many of the items can be utilized at future immunization clinics.

Last week, the health department put out a call for nurses interested in volunteering their time to help with COVID-19 vaccination efforts within the general public.

Registered nurses willing to help are asked to email with their contact information.