Eligibility expands but counties remain focused on adults 65-plus


TRI-CITY AREA — State officials have expanded eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine but local health departments say they’ll continue to prioritize individuals in prior immunization phases for now.

Across Michigan, residents 50 and older with certain high risk medical conditions and caregivers of children with special health care needs are now eligible to get the vaccine but both the Lapeer and St. Clair County health departments say that their focus remains on scheduling individuals 65 and older for shots.

“At this time nearly 40 percent of individuals 65 years and older have received vaccination,” said Lapeer County Health Dept. Director Kathy Haskins.

“We have begun to receive larger amounts of vaccine the past few weeks from the state, but expect it to take several more weeks to get vaccine to those in this age group who are currently on our waiting list, or still calling.”

Haskins said they continue to work on immunizing Lapeer County’s 1,000-plus school staff along with daycare workers. Currently, about 75 percent of the weekly supply is allocated for those 65 and older with 25 percent going to the other eligible groups.

“We are happy to open vaccine eligibility for the 50 and older group, but must continue also to ensure the opportunity for those 65 and older to be vaccinated,” Haskins added.

As of Monday morning there were nine confirmed cases of the virus hospitalized locally, with three in the intensive care unit and two on a ventilator.

In the past week, Lapeer County counted 96 new confirmed cases and two deaths, bringing the county’s total to 4,488 and 120, respectively.

To register for a vaccine appointment, visit www.lapeercountyweb.org and follow the links. Those who don’t have computer access can call 810-245-4163.

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In St. Clair County, COVID-19 case numbers have risen in the past week.

Between March 2-8, 228 new cases were reported, up from the 128 the week prior. The number of active cases increased for the first time in several weeks and now stands at 1,377. Four deaths were reported, bringing the county’s total to 251.

“Expanding vaccine eligibility allows us to continue to make progress in our goal of vaccinating the majority of our population as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Annette Mercatante, Medical Health Officer.

“Despite limited supply, about 15% of St. Clair County’s population has been vaccinated with one or more doses, and close to 35% of those over age 65.”

As vaccine supplies allow, the health department said they will continue to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for all eligible individuals but adults over the age of 65 will continue to be prioritized.

To pre-register for an appointment, visit at www.scchealth.co and click on the “Pre-registration for COVID-19 Vaccine” link.

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Updated epidemic orders took affect on Friday, March 5. Restaurants and bars are now allowed to be at 50 percent capacity, up to 100 people, with an 11 p.m. curfew. Retail stores can also have a maximum of 50 percent capacity. Exercise facilities are now allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity.

Additionally, indoor non-residential gatherings are permitted, up to 25 people. That means in-person public meetings can resume.

As for visitors at residential care facilities, they will be allowed as long as the facility has not had a new COVID-19 case in the last 14 days. All indoor visitors 13 and older will be subject to a rapid test.