As President Biden visits Pfizer factory, residents awaiting COVID-19 vaccine express fear and frustration
PORTAGE, MI – It is about a 20-minute drive from Oshtemo Township, where Patti Newman lives with her husband and daughter, at the Portage plant where COVID-19 vaccines are now produced.
They have been waiting to get vaccinated for months.
Newman said she was concerned about how COVID-19 could affect family members who suffer from other health conditions. They’ve spent most of the last year indoors trying to avoid it, only going out for the most part, she said.
As President Joe Biden prepared to travel by Air Force One to visit the Portage factory on Friday, February 19, Newman’s family and thousands more in Kalamazoo County are stranded at home, awaiting the life-saving vaccine. .
Newman and her family are wondering what is taking so long and why vaccines are being distributed to others but not them, she told MLive on February 17.
Newman, 66, who is retired, said her 77-year-old husband Dan signed up seven weeks ago through the Kalamazoo County Department of Health and Community Services. He has yet to receive a date, she said.
Newman is concerned that for her husband, who suffers from emphysema, and their adopted daughter Sarah, 20, who was born with an illness that has led to the development of tumors, catching the virus could be fatal.
She also wants to get the vaccine herself, Newman said. But she is more worried about other members of her family.
His question to President Joe Biden and others involved in the vaccination effort is simple.
“I want to know why,” Newman said. “Why aren’t they doing more? “
Biden, 78, was vaccinated on December 21, almost two months ago. He visited Portage as the US Department of Health and Human Services announced a plan to purchase an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 from the Portage-based company as part of the national effort aimed at accelerating the distribution of vaccines.
Newman questioned the deployment of the vaccine and wondered why teachers are being assigned to get it in Michigan before others who could more likely die if they contract the virus.
“They should take care of the elderly,” she said.
Newman also asked why some states or counties were getting more vaccines than others, and asked why a friend in Gratiot County had already received both doses, when her family couldn’t get the first shot. times even if they live in the same county where the vaccine. is being done.
Newman said she tried to get her daughter vaccinated on a list, but was unsuccessful. Her daughter suffers from PTSD due to her health issues and suffers from panic attacks related to the virus, Newman said.
Locally, she said she believed Kalamazoo County could be better organized with the rollout of its vaccine.
Despite the frustrations expressed by community members, county health officials and hospitals report that they are making constant efforts to distribute as many vaccines as possible to meet demand, which exceeds a limited supply.
“We are ready to go,” said health worker Jim Rutherford, to step up and administer more doses. “We just need the product.”
He briefed the Kalamazoo County Commissioners Council on Tuesday, February 16.
The county has organized 25 clinics so far, he said. It takes an average of 21 minutes for a person to go through the system and get a dose, Rutherford said, not counting the observation time.
“We are very proud of it,” he said. “That people can come in and get shot relatively quickly. “
The county health department had distributed 17,594 doses of the vaccine on Tuesday, he said. Kalamazoo County is currently ahead of the state average when measuring the vaccination progress of certain groups, he said. The planning they’ve done over the past few months means they’re ready to donate more photos once they receive the necessary shipments.
“We are in a very good position in Kalamazoo County in terms of the ability to move very quickly,” Rutherford said Tuesday.
Health care organizations and private companies are also working to disseminate clichés in the community. In addition to its own immunization clinics, Bronson HealthCare has partnered with other organizations to help immunize underserved communities. These include clinics hosted by the Family Health Center in Kalamazoo, InterCare in Bangor, and an upcoming collaboration with the Burma Center and Grace Health in Battle Creek.
Bronson representatives also participate in public forums and question-and-answer sessions to reach out to other groups, spokeswoman Carolyn Wylie said.
Yet while the whole world seems to be watching the progress of vaccinations, it’s not hard to find people waiting for an injection and wondering why they can’t get it yet.
Angela Newton, 66, lives in Alamo Township in Kalamazoo County. She registered with the county in January, the day after applications for people 65 and over were accepted, she said, and was placed on a waiting list.
Newton, as of February 17, had not received the vaccine and is still waiting to receive information on making an appointment.
“I was so proud that Kalamazoo was the one who came up with the vaccine, but personally I don’t know anyone my age who had the vaccine,” she said, mentioning the discussions between her group of friends. Newton said she sees more young people getting vaccinated, like her daughter who works for social services and her other daughter who works as a secretary at a school.
“I think I’m at high risk, because I’m on oxygen, and I think it’s because I’m not affiliated with an organization that I’m not getting a vaccine,” she said.
She worked as a teacher for almost 40 years, she said, and retired in 2020 after teaching virtually. Her children also tried to give her access to the vaccine, checking with another county and looking elsewhere, she said.
Newton saw two of his regular doctors and they were unable to provide one.
“My children want their mother to be safe,” she said. “Their only parent. They feel bad that I haven’t had a vaccine yet.
For Patti Newman and her family, the vaccine would mean relief, Newman said. One of the things they miss the most is travel.
As the pandemic lockdown nears the one-year mark in Michigan, Newman recalled his memories sharing a photo of the smiling family on a previous trip to Disneyworld.
“A lot of people feel that way,” Newman said. “They are just tired of being stuck.”