The Michigan Department of Health of Human Services (MDHHS) recently announced various support programs to help Michigan residents sign up for and gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Methods to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan have been difficult for individuals 65 and older; many county local health departments are not offering the vaccine and will not provide vaccine information over the phone. These resources may be useful to providers when consulting with elderly patients.
Since individual physician providers cannot yet distribute the vaccine, the only other option for older qualifying individuals is to make an appointment with a local hospital system or pharmacy that is currently distributing the vaccine. However, these hospitals require patients to have an active online chart account with the hospital. In addition, hospital vaccine appointments are given to online chart account holders at random, and patients must continue to monitor their emails for appointment notifications. Many pharmacies, such as Right Aid and Meijer, are following a similar format for those 65 and older, and require patients to schedule appointments online or through the pharmacy’s smartphone application. These processes have caused difficulty for elderly individuals seeking the vaccine, who may have more trouble navigating online portals, emails, and smartphone applications.
Due to the varying degrees of technological access and understanding of Michigan residents 65 and older, MDHHS is working with community partners to make the COVID-19 vaccine appointment process smoother. Qualifying residents can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine for the most current COVID-19 vaccine information or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 for assistance. MDHHS has also partnered with 2-1-1, a free, confidential website service that helps connect Michigan residents with COVID-19 information and community organizations across Michigan with thousands of different programs. 2-1-1 utilizes a comprehensive database of health and human services in Michigan with more than 7,000 agencies providing over 36,000 services across the state. MDHHS first began its partnership with 2-1-1 in June of 2020 to help individuals in Michigan find and register for COVID-19 testing, over the phone or internet, and expanded its partnership on February 12, 2021 to include directing individuals to local vaccination clinics.