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Local health officials worry federal vaccine approval won’t change much here

Aurora Rae
A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Central Michigan University.

Walk-in vaccine clinics are available at local health departments and pharmacies across the state.

The federal government has granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination, but local health officials in Michigan said they’re afraid it won’t do much to change vaccination rates here.

Steve Hall, the health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department, said surveys show the vast majority of people who are not already vaccinated still have no plans to get a shot.

Pfizer’s vaccine had been offered under an emergency use authorization, but the federal Food and Drug Administration bumped that up to approval on Monday, meaning the immunization is backed by months of safety data and effectiveness analysis.

Hall said FDA approval “is not going to hurt.”

“I think it will help somewhat,” he said. “I don’t expect a huge jump.

Hall said it’s frustrating to watch the state’s vaccination rate stagnate at just over 60 percent of the eligible population.

He said even Michigan’s vaccine lottery, with prizes up to $2 million dollars, didn’t make much difference. “It was fear of the Delta variant that was drawing people in.”

Hall said he’s watching as hospitals in southern states with vaccination rates similar to Michigan’s are overwhelmed by Delta variant cases, and he’s worried that will be happening here in a few weeks.

“We all know things are about to get bad again, and they didn’t have to be that way, so I’m -- really, I just urge people to consider getting vaccinated.”

Brett joined WCMU in February, 2021, as a general assignment reporter. He was previously the health reporter at WXXI Public Broadcasting in Rochester, N.Y., and has filed stories for National Public Radio, IEEE Spectrum, The Village Voice and other outlets.