Macomb County is expecting a vaccine for COVID-19 to arrive as early as next week. The county health department has obtained some of the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the Pfizer vaccine, and they've started preparing buildings for people to go get vaccinated.
Bill Ridella is the director of the Macomb County Health Department. He says the first vaccine facility will be in Clinton Township.
"Our facility is an indoor location. The VerKuilen building has a big space that we were able to put in 40 vaccination stations. We think we can maybe do up to probably 2,000 per day in that location."
Ridella says that the health department has been working with hospitals and neighboring counties to make sure that the vaccine rollout effort is coordinated, and to ensure that frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents—people at the front of the line—get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"We know the hospitals are getting vaccines. We don’t know how much and when, but we all anticipate vaccines coming next week. And we have been meeting with our hospitals, the last couple of weeks, talking about our vaccination plans so that we are coordinated."
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says that the vaccine won't be mandatory, but it will be strongly encouraged.
"The simplest way to say this is, 'wait your turn.' Those that want it, you need to wait until you're given the ability to sign up to take it. Right now, this isn't the time for the general population. We've been told by the federal government and also by the state, the first tier is specific to EMS workers, and those that are in some of these nursing homes or congregate care."
Hackel also says the county won't have issues staffing at the VerKuilen Building vaccination stations, but anticipates having to open more sites and hire more workers to staff those sites as the vaccine becomes widley available to the general public. He says the county is already making plans for those expansions.
The county health department has also moved its COVID testing location to Baker College due to inclement weather. Health officials say that even with a vaccine on the way, community testing will still be crucial in preventing the spread of the virus.