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The Ups and Downs of Demand for the COVID-19 Vaccine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula


More than a quarter of residents in Michigan’s Ontonagon County are vaccinated against COVID-19.

That makes it the county with the highest percentage of vaccinated residents in the state.

Other counties in the U.P. are doing well too.

About 20 percent of people in Iron County have received the vaccine and more than 15 percent of Gogebic County residents have been vaccinated.

Jessica Bessner, the Aspirus Regional Director of Pharmacy for the Upper Peninsula, said over half of community members in the 65 and older age group have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

But because of issues with fluctuating supply, Aspirus still has a full docket of vaccine appointments.

“We are still working through our final lists of 65 plus patients and we’re trying to make sure those people get their appointments in,” Bessner said.

Last week, the Western U.P. Health Department reported other vaccine providers are noticing diminished demand for the vaccine.

Bessner said she doesn’t expect that to last for long.

That’s because Michigan just expanded eligibility requirements for who can receive the vaccine.

She said as more time goes by, people seem more willing to get vaccinated.

“I think that some of the initial hesitancy our population had experienced at first has started to alleviate,” she said. “As we open up more here, we expect to see more 65 and older people come in to receive the vaccine.”

On March 22, anyone older than 50 will be eligible to receive the vaccine in Michigan.

Bessner said those interested in getting vaccinated through Aspirus can add their name to an online waitlist.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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