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In some counties, volunteers at COVID-19 vaccination sites can get shots too

vaccinator giving someone a covid vaccine through the window their car
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

Many Michigan counties are looking for volunteers to help vaccinate people against COVID-19. And in some counties, those volunteers are able to get their shots as well.

Washtenaw County is offering that option, said county health department spokeswoman Susan Cerniglia. The county is currently operating one mass vaccination site, with plans to open another when vaccine supplies increase. They also use volunteers on mobile teams that go out to vaccinate vulnerable populations.

Cerniglia said volunteers can administer vaccines, but only if they’re licensed health professionals. Additional volunteers are needed for everything from greeting patients, to monitoring for potential allergic reactions.

“You need your vaccinators, as well as lots of general volunteers and staff to keep the process flowing, to do the paperwork, to get people in and out,” Cerniglia said.

“As our numbers increase, we’re bringing on more volunteers. So we offer the option of vaccination for anyone that’s actively working those clinics.”

Wayne County is also offering its volunteers the option of getting shots once all people with appointments have received their vaccines for the day.

“Volunteers face potential exposure working at the vaccination site,” Wayne County Health Department spokesman Michael McElrath said in a statement. “In fact, under current state guidelines, anyone who volunteers in a health-related capacity automatically moves into eligibility group 1A under the state’s vaccination plan. This is done for public health purposes.”

People can register to become volunteers through the Michigan Volunteer Registry. It requires screening and a background check. Washtenaw County volunteers can find more information here. 

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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