TRAVERSE CITY — Northern Michigan clinics are administering nearly 4,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week after it was authorized for emergency use late last month.
The state distributed 82,700 of the one-dose J&J vaccine to be given this week. Of those, about 600 went to Grand Traverse County; 400 to the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department; 800 to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan; and about 2,000 to District Health Department #10.
Munson Healthcare also received doses, though it is not known how many.
The J&J doses are part of the initial push-out of the vaccine from the state, said Lisa Peacock, health officer for the HDNM and the BLDHD. But more doses will not be coming for a couple of weeks, she said.
“We will not be getting any more until the third week in March,” Peacock said.
The departments are in the process of planning with community partners for distribution of this vaccine, she said, which likely be redistributed to smaller local pharmacies and provider offices who have not yet received allocations.
“We are creating more access points for people to be able to get vaccinated,” Peacock said. “We will also be exploring plans for how to best meet the needs of homebound individuals.”
The J&J doses are in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines the counties continue to receive and administer.
On March 1 the eligibility pool was expanded to include people 60 and older with risk factors, agricultural workers and those who process food.
On Monday, eligibility for the vaccine was expanded to people who are homeless, those over 50 with risk factors, and caregivers of children with special health care needs. On March 22, all Michiganders over the age of 50 will be eligible.
But inoculation rates continue to depend on the availability of the vaccine, with northern Michigan and much of the state still still working on vaccinating those who are 65 and older.
As of Friday, 22 percent of all residents 16 and older in Grand Traverse County were fully vaccinated, having received both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines; of those residents 65 and older, 45 percent were fully vaccinated.
In the HDNM, which covers four counties, numbers are 15.6 percent of all residents and 29.3 percent of those 65 and up; in Benzie County 12.4 percent and 22.4 percent; Leelanau 14.5 percent and 24.6 percent; and in the DHD#10, about 12 percent and 26.4 percent.
In Michigan 11.7 percent of all residents and 26 percent of those 65 and older are fully vaccinated. Earlier this month drugmaker Merck & Co. inked a deal in which it will help J&J produce the vaccine in an effort to expand the supply. The Biden administration announced last week that enough of the three vaccines are expected to be available to inoculate all eligible American adults by June.
J&J representatives said the company is on pace to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently loosened the state’s coronavirus restrictions, raising capacity limits in restaurants and other businesses while also allowing for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The CDC on Monday also announced that fully vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine, health officials say.