Benzie-Leelanau Health Department Hosts Drop-in Vax Clinics
"Our goal is to meet the needs of the community. We know our set clinic locations aren't always convenient." - Michelle Klein
Whether you’re grocery shopping, stopping for gas, or spending a night out on the town – you’ve probably seen them: COVID vaccine clinics are popping up all over northern Michigan.
Health agencies are hosting the clinics in an effort to reach more people, as Michigan works to get closer to the goal of a 70% vaccination rate.
Wednesday, Benzie County played host to two separate clinics. The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department has already hit their 70% goal, but that’s no reason to slow down. They say the vaccine will be available for everyone who needs it.
Public Health Nurse Dawn Hynds says, “We like going to the people to make it easier for them to go out and get a vaccine.” And that’s just what they did Wednesday – and what they’ve found themselves doing repeatedly in recent weeks. On this day, if you need a cold beverage or a snack from Stapleton’s Market in Benzonia – you may have found yourself in the perfect place for a vaccine.
Michelle Klein is the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department’s Director of Personal Health. She says, “Our popup clinics are also an opportunity for our nurses to just talk to people about the vaccine and answer any questions they may have.”
That same opportunity presented itself later on Wednesday afternoon. Fans of wine and ciders could get their shots at St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah. Klein says, “We carry all three vaccines. so we can give anybody whatever they need, if they’re coming for first dose or second dose.”
In fact, it doesn’t matter where you got your first shot. The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department says you can get your second one here. “We went from not having enough vaccine to now we have a lot of vaccine and we hate to see it expire on our shelves. We’re trying to be very judicious on what we order and to use up what we have,” Klein says.
Plenty of vaccine – to the point that health departments across the region are sharing it with each other before ordering more from the state. “Before, if we needed some vaccine we might call Munson and say ‘we need some Pfizer for our kids. can we get it from you guys?’ So we’ve always worked together. At this point (now) it is ‘I’ve got some vaccine expiring. Can I give you some instead of you ordering more?” And that means plenty of opportunity for anyone who hasn’t had their shot.
With drop-in clinics there’s no easy way to predict the turnout. But Hynds says, “We feel if someone comes up to us and says ‘I wasn’t going to do it but since you’re here, we did it.’ We think that’s a good day. even if it’s just one person.”
Due to decreasing demand, Klein says they’ll be holding fewer clinics as the summer continues. But they also expect more demand in late summer and fall – as younger children may become eligible for the vaccine.
In the meantime, Klein says everyone should consider getting vaccinated. Many younger workers have not received the vaccine, which worries Klein as the busy summer season is here. “We have thousands and thousands of people coming into our area from all over the state and even other countries. And we really don’t know what their vaccination status is. We do have a lot of unvaccinated workers out there and we’re bringing in a whole bunch of tourists. And we don’t want to see a surge of cases again.”