Michigan is ahead of most states in its COVID-19 vaccination work, but there's still a long way to go.
More than 1 million doses have been administered so far, the seventh-most among states. Right now, health-care providers, educators and other front-line essential workers can be vaccinated, along with people age 65 and older.
Melissa Seifert, associate state director of government affairs at AARP Michigan, said vaccine appointments are available through local health departments. However, she noted that with such high demand, time slots are in short supply and the online system can be glitchy.
"We're hearing from our members the frustration, the confusion," she said. "It's such an exciting time to know that we came out with the vaccine, that there's light at the end of this tunnel. But yet, the access to it is really what's holding people back and making them worry."
The state is averaging roughly 30,000 shots per day, with a goal to reach 50,000. Seifert said AARP can help answer questions about the vaccine, and help folks learn how they can sign up. The information is online at aarp.org/mi.
Seifert said AARP has made it a priority to ensure the vaccine is available to older adults, who are at increased risk of complications from COVID-19. She noted that any questions about the benefits and risks of the vaccine should be discussed with a health-care professional.
"I want to make it clear that we are by no means advocating for individuals to get the vaccine if they do not want to," she said. "We just want to be a provider of information and resources for those who do want the vaccine."
Vaccine distribution has revealed the challenges some older adults have with internet access. Seifert said AARP Michigan is evaluating how to better reach all its members.
"We're really looking at what this year looks like as far as educating our members," she said. "In the world of virtual, how do we go back to educating with paper or with tele-town halls, or with more of a user-friendly-type platform?"
Michigan has roughly 1,800 new COVID-19 cases a day, but has seen a steady decline in cases since the post-holiday-season spike.