Cass County commissioners receive COVID-19 vaccine update

CASSOPOLIS — Vaccine demand is exceeding supply — that was the message conveyed to the Cass County Board of Commissioners by the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department Thursday.

During the board’s regularly scheduled meeting, Dr. Larry Wile, medical director at the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, provided an update to Cass County commissioners about the district’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Wile reported that the health department has received and distributed 3,119 vaccines in Cass County to date, far less than the thousands of eligible individuals who have signed up for the vaccine.

Counties cannot dictate how many vaccines they receive, as the state administers vaccines to counties based on an allotment from the federal government. Wile said this has slowed down vaccine distribution across the district.

“We cannot control how much we are given,” Wile said. “What we can control is how fast we get what we are given into people’s arms and how we divide it up.”

To aid with distributing all of its available vaccines as fast as possible, Wile said the health department has been working with community partners, such as Southwestern Michigan College, to host vaccination clinics.

“I can’t tell you how much we rely on our partners, our volunteer partners, such as pharmacists, retired nurses who are giving injections and law personnel,” Wile said.

Though he reported success in vaccine clinics, clinics are currently on hold as the department received zero vaccines from the state this week due to weather conditions. If the department receives the missing vaccines, it will schedule vaccine clinics for next week, but as of Thursday evening, no clinics had been scheduled. This week, as vaccine numbers were low, the department had to borrow from the vaccines it had reserved for second doses to fulfill the scheduled appointments for first dose vaccines.

“I understand there is frustration, but people just don’t understand what is going on under the surface,” Wile said. “Trust me, [the health department] is working hard and championing for Cass County and to get more vaccines in arms.”

Once Cass County starts receiving more vaccines from the state, Wile said the health department would be ready to get residents vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If we were given 6,000 vaccines, we would get them in arms within two weeks,” Wile said. “We have volunteers. It’s the vaccines — we just don’t have it. … It’s the vaccine that is the holdup.”

Also Thursday, the board approved the following appointments to county boards and committees:

  • Amy East to the Historical Commission to an unexpired term ending July 1, 2023.
  • Roseann Marchetti to the Board of Public Works to a three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2023.
  • Jeremiah Jones to the Economic Development Corporation Board to an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Jeremiah Jones to the Local Development Finance Authority to an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Ryan Laylin to the Cass County Planning Commission to an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Robert Benjamin to the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency to a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Skip Dyes to the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency as an alternate to a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Skip Dyes to the Southwest Michigan Solid Waste Consortium to a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Ryan Laylin to the Southwest Michigan Solid Waste Consortium to a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Roseann Marchetti to the Van Buren-Cass District Board of Health to a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.

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