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Kalamazoo County Holds Mass COVID Vaccinations

Two Kalamazoo County health department nurses wearing blue vests bend over a work table as they prepare Pfizer COVID vaccine doses for a mass-vaccination clinic at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center on December 22
Andy Robins

Kalamazoo County is holding its first mass-vaccination clinics for COVID-19.

County Medical Director Doctor William Nettleton says the events December 22 and 23 are for EMTs and other front-line health care workers.

"There will be over 300 people we plan to vaccine today, and over 200 people we plan to vaccinate tomorrow. So, we're here all afternoon and through the evening to accommodate the special, unique features of being on call 24/7 as a health care worker."

A red basket holds hypodermic needles and other vaccination supplies on a white work table at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK
Hypodermic needles and other supplies ready for health care workers getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center on December 22

The County's Department of Health and Community Services will also soon immunizing others at higher risk of getting the virus. They include healthy people over 65, teachers and grocery store workers. Through a federal contract with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, CVS and Walgreen pharmacies are giving shots to staff and residents at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.(P) Nettleton says the general public will have to wait.

"The general population will likely be vaccinated later in the spring, once more availability of the vaccine becomes more apparent."

But Nettleton says he expects corona virus vaccines to become available in many places, especially the newly approved Moderna version. It can be stored at higher temperatures than the Pfizer vaccine the County is using now.

"We will continue to have more mass-vaccination clinics through local public health, and as the vaccine becomes more available, our community is going to be seeing it more often in traditional health care settings like clinics and hospitals."

Kalamazoo County health officials say they hope to immunize 75-percent of its residents against the coronavirus by the end of 2021.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.